With high school graduation ceremonies occurring all over the South Shore this past weekend, it was a welcoming time for celebration of achievement and abundant retrospect of the years spent in a single, familiar atmosphere, both cherishing friendships formed and wondering what happens next.
Silver Lake Regional High School graduated 268 seniors on Saturday, June 3, rejoicing outdoors with a well-behaved Mother Nature. However, behind the scenes planning began in January with many hands and eyes; the day took great preparations for success. From proofreaders with numerous spell checks of each graduate’s name and awards accomplished to ordering the commencement booklets, sizing for gowns and caps, responsibilities for ordering flowers, to a complete installation of live feeds for the outdoor sound system. Many were also finishing speeches along with their daily schedules and extra-curricular activities while attending the monthly committee meetings for the big day.
Class officers who spoke during Silver Lake graduation Saturday morning reminisced of the ‘early days’ as freshman, silly dance moves, getting lost on the third floor pool area, which didn’t exist, and taking selfies over the last four years. In a teenager’s world it was barely surviving the pre-dawn start of school when the alarm clock went off way too early so they could find a parking spot. Nearly everyone lacked sleep.
They confessed their six years in the Silver Lake district were fun but not easy. An enormous bonus to something they had been intimidated by at the start of seventh grade was the meshing together of the three towns into one regional school. They soon realized there were cherished, newfound friendships only streets away.
Laughter came from all in attendance, as staff guest speaker Sean Donovan reminded graduates through common relatable senior-isms of how far they had come. He reminded them of individual journeys each student took along slightly different paths but still finishing at the same spot.
Celebrating their accomplishments before the Silver Lake community he parted by reminding them to stay true and remain predictable. Be a good friend, a trait in which people can rely on knowing they have that solid someone out there.
Nathan Finney of Halifax, Salutatorian of his senior class of 2017, was introduced as a ’good friend to all’ by Isabella Levesque, class historian. He has been a member of the gay – straight alliance for the last four years and is a talented member of chorus and drama. He carried primary roles in all eight fall and spring productions.
Finney addressed his classmates and guests with a diverse look at friendships, differences, and acceptance that he feels will create a brighter future.
“Before me sits a class with many different ideas and talents and students with many different backgrounds; these differences serve to make us stronger,” said Finney.
“Every one of us is capable of pursuing something that makes us successful and happy but if we want our futures brighter we can only achieve this by listening to each other and respecting our differences,” he said.
He shared a story of his most memorable experiences at Silver Lake involving a leadership class. He also compared the dissimilarities of individuals in drama club but on a common ground by way of new friendship and a mutual goal to create something they could be proud of, he said.
Giving and getting a hug during drama production week, everyone encourages and congratulates each other on their success. Stage prep and building props, long hours and the feeling of nervous energy before the show were just some of the many things that drew them all together. “We are not the same…but we had a shared experience and a common goal”, he said.
Principal Jim Mulcahy of the Silver Lake Regional School District gave out more than 250 diplomas Saturday. He knew firsthand what the graduates were experiencing as they recalled the time at Silver Lake and friendships formed.
He too will be heading for new endeavors as he leaves the school district and familiar faces for an opportunity closer to home. Having grown up in Plympton his roots remain strong as his parents still reside there.
“The friendships that I made are my strongest, closest friends to this day. I still see those guys. We still get together… now we are married with kids. Those were the strongest bonds, with classes and sports and growing up together,” said Mulcahy.
The forming of friendships in elementary school and knowing those around you may be slightly easier in smaller populations like Plympton, Halifax, and Kingston.
In his tenure at Silver Lake, Mulcahy said sharing a positive school experience by finding ‘your hook’ such as: sports, clubs, or drama can help students form lasting friendships as seen on the stage at graduation and the field following the services. Students embraced one another as did the undergraduates promising not to lose touch with one another.
Doing well in school, staying disciplined, getting work done – those have been strong examples, which have been helpful guiding our students to a strong education and finding their place in our school community, he added.
“If you find your passion- that will trickle down… so that students have ownership of their education and the ownership tends to breed success,” said Mulcahy.
I had a lot of good teachers and mentors at Silver Lake as well as my parents- who are not teachers- but they valued education. They pushed me to work hard, he said.
“I have had the unique opportunity to work in the community I grew up in. I am never going to be able to replicate that. I will miss the people the most. Students, parents, staff, administrators and the superintendents I have worked with. The people are always the best part. That is what I will miss the most – the strong connections – I am really going to miss them.”
Mulcahy as accepted a position as principal of the Sandwich High School. He makes his home with his family on Cape Cod.