A ‘family’ of graduates: DHS celebrates last senior class from old school

Written by Gillian Smith
 | Wednesday, 11 June 2014 16:29

Sunshine and “selfies” were abundant during this year’s graduation, as the last class to graduate from the current high school said their goodbyes and celebrated their bright futures.

As students reflected on their more than 12 years in the Duxbury school system, there was one thing they all agreed upon: this year’s class was a family.

After pausing to take a “selfie” of himself with members of the graduating class and friends and family members in the audience, Johnny Congdon took the audience on a walk down memory lane, remembering a time when current Duxbury High School assistant principal Jim Donovan was the music teacher at Chandler School.

Congdon shared a conversation he had with a friend from Pembroke who commented on that fact that Duxbury is “good” at everything from academics and athletics to drama and music.

“It took me a moment to gather my thoughts and my answer was: Duxbury is a family,” he said. “This is not a cliché; it’s true. Take a moment, look around at all your classmates; you played on the play- ground together, you played T-ball together, you had your first music lesson together, you laughed, cried, and fought with each other. But at the end of the day you loved each other, because that’s what families do; they love each other.”

DHS principal Andrew Stephens thanked the students for their hard work over the four years at the high school, and shared with the audience a sentiment he had shared with the students when they first entered the high school.

“When these students were freshmen at the start of the 2010-2011 school year, I discussed the fact that a school is merely a structure of bricks and mortar,” Stephens said. “It is the day-to-day actions of the people inside that structure that define its soul.”

Stephens stressed the importance of the strength of school community and thanked the students for forming a welcoming community for new students.

“These young men and women did the same things over their four years at DHS that made our school a better place,” he said. “This fact was underscored to me during our Senior Night Out when senior Wes Williams got on the microphone and, with heartfelt sincerity, thanked his class- mates for making him feel so welcome when he moved here from Hingham as a sophomore.”

Stephens briefly touched upon the massive undertaking of moving buildings over the summer as the schools prepare to open and use the new co-located middle and high school in September. As the school said goodbye to the last senior class from the current high school, it also said goodbye to School Psychologist Wayne Frieden, social studies teacher Jamie Doherty, world language teacher and subject supervisor Donna Holt and social studies teacher John Fernandes.

“These four people have dedicated their professional lives to the education of literally thousands of young people at Duxbury,” Stephens said. “They made the choice to commit to a profession that is both a living and a way of life that has a tangible impact on both individual lives and the life of the community.”

As he said his final goodbye to the Class of 2014, he imparted some “pearls of wisdom,” in the hopes of helping them transition into the “real world.” Those pieces of advice include cultivating and maintaining personal and creative interests; having a sense of what is fundamentally right and wrong; seeking opportunities to become involved and embracing the power of dignity and empathy.

“You are ready to take the next step in your lives and head into the world of adulthood,” he said. “Cultivate your interests, do the right thing all of the time, be dependable, get involved and don’t ever, ever forget the power of empathy and kindness.”

After the students received their diplomas and moved their tassels, graduation caps flew through the air as friends and family cheered for their graduates.