WESTFORD â€” The 146 students who made up Nashoba Valley Technical High Schoolâ€™s Class of 2013 closed their high school careers Saturday, June 1, with a day of happiness tinged with sadness. Three are Groton residents: David Bruce Blood, Nicholas Jordan-Everett Clark, and Edward Michael Perciballi.
In a hot and steamy graduation ceremony on the front steps of the school that saw tributes to two of their classmates who passed away, the students remembered their departed friends, but also rejoiced in the accomplishments of the class and the bright future they all share.
Valedictorian Rachel Casey of Pepperell honored Joseph Isenberg, who died in a skateboarding accident in fall 2011, and Cody Ayotte, killed in a car crash last fall, in her speech.
â€œWe will always remember our two friends and classmates that are no longer here,â€ Rachel said. â€œEven though Joey and Cody are not standing on these steps with us today, they are still here and will always be in our hearts.â€
Salutatorian Cynthia Messina of Townsend spoke about being a young child and thinking 2013 was so far in the future. But for her and her classmates, the future is now.
â€œGrowing up, I always knew that I was going to graduate as a part of the Class of 2013,â€ Cynthia said. â€œIt was one of the first pieces of information I was taught. For a long time, it felt strange and distant, a large number, a date that seemed like it would never come.â€
Cynthia urged her fellow graduates to think of life as two piles â€” one of good things, the other of bad things â€” and to remember that neither pile can overtake the other.
â€œWhen we leave here today, weâ€™ll be leaving with a pile of memories and experiences, some good, some bad,â€ she said. â€œBut all make up our high- chool experience. These memories helped shape the people we are today, but they do not define our future. Once we leave here, we are taking the next step on our journey. We are going to add new experiences to the pile.
â€œRemember to learn from your mistakes and add them to the pile,â€ she added. â€œEvery piece of lifeâ€™s experience is important, and one day, each and every piece will be a story to tell anyone whoâ€™s willing to listen.â€
Class President Erika Locke of Tewksbury reminded her classmates that though they will all go their separate ways, â€œsome of us off to college, some continuing with their careers, and some protecting our country in the military â€¦ each and every one of us has the ability to achieve anything we put our minds and hearts to.â€
Guest speaker Drew Weber, owner of the Lowell Spinners minor-league baseball team, making his first commencement speech â€” â€œand quite possibly my last,â€ he quipped â€” told the graduates, â€œHave passion for whatever you do. Go with your heart, not with your head.â€
The ceremony was held on the front steps instead of on the football field because Nashoba Tech has embarked on a major renovation of its athletic complex that school officials hope will be completed by the start of the 2013-2014 school year.