From the first notes of Pomp and Circumstance that signaled the Falmouth High School Class of 2016’s procession into the high school field house to the lengthy clapping, foot stomping and shouts of joy that erupted after the last graduate received a diploma, Saturday morning’s commencement ceremony was brimming with a sense of excitement and words of wisdom and encouragement.
“Welcome members of the Class of 2016. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life,” said Falmouth High School Principal Mary W. Gans in her opening remarks to the students.
The graduating class was led to their seats by the class marshals and honor guard, the girls in white dresses and boys in white shirts and khaki pants. The audience stood for the National Anthem, sung by the Falmouth High School Repertory Singers, and the event long awaited by 183 graduates began.
In his welcome address, John W. Koss Jr., vice president of the senior class, reflected upon the class’s unexplored potential when they entered Falmouth High School as freshmen, and noted how much independence and confidence he and his classmates have gained since then.
Jordan E. Willis, the class secretary/treasurer, might have spoken for many when she said in her remarks, “How many times I couldn’t wait until we were sitting exactly where we are now. And now that we’re here, it’s exciting. But it’s also sad, and a little scary.”
Ms. Willis introduced and welcomed Superintendent of Schools Nancy R. Taylor (a 1981 graduate of FHS), Alan Jacobs, chairman of the school committee, and Deryk Eynon, who served as class advisor for the Class of 2016.
“It is comforting to think and to believe that, in the scheme of the world, we matter. That we stand out,” Kaitlin R. McManus, president of the National Honor Society, said in her commencement speech. “We are all guilty of believing in the power of our existence,” she reminded her classmates.
“To us, education is an irrefutable right that we take for granted,” she said. “Across the globe, however, children fight for a chance at enlightenment. We’ve been handed our futures. Let us not sit idly and waste the opulence that each diploma holds.”
As happens each year, two students from the graduating class, one female and one male, were chosen by their classmates to receive the Anna K. Harper Roll of Honor awards based upon their “honor, loyalty, and service” to their class, and to the school.
This year’s Roll of Honor students are Abigail M. Peterson and Michael B. Wheeler. Their names will be placed on the bronze plaque near the auditorium that lists all recipients of this award.
Abigail M. Peterson is also president of the senior class. Her farewell remarks paid homage to the clipper ship, the mascot and “heart of Falmouth High School.”
“We ourselves at times even denounced the mighty clipper ship,” she said, “referring to it as a ‘stupid boat.’ While a clipper ship is physically just a ship, it symbolically is so much more. What people fail to realize is the strength and vitality of this ship, the pride of this ship, the spirit of this ship.”
Ms. Peterson explained that the way to tell the clipper ship from other sailboats is by its three masts.
“Our clipper ship here in the high school has been no different; we have acted under three masts...rigor, respect, and responsibility,” she said, leaving her classmates with this advice: “Maintain your ship to the best of your ability. Be prepared and plot a course, know the route you want to take, and follow it. Be ready to adapt to changes in the water. Remember that whatever journey you decide to take is your own. Don’t waste it.”
“Education is the key to success in this world,” said Ms. Taylor, “but no one rises to success alone. We all learn from each other. We need mentors to guide, advise, and encourage us. Be flexible. When opportunities come, take them. Trust yourselves. Don’t ever shy away from a challenge.”
“We have invested in you,” she said. “Now is the time to invest in yourselves, in others, and in your community. Show what you have learned.”
Principal Mary Gans offered graduates “our own sweetest dreams for you: that you may greet struggle with great courage; that you find love in your deepest joy; that you may become a teacher in every moment that you learn; that you may with wonder enjoy yourself becoming exactly who you were meant to be.”
Thunderous applause and a standing ovation by parents and friends ended the ceremony and gave way to an inspired performance of Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks—Overture” by the high school band, as graduates went out of the building and on to the rest of their lives.
Retiring this year from Falmouth High School are social studies department head, Marion Lans; special education teacher, Anne Oberteuffer, and special education teacher Cynthia Rankin.
The Falmouth High School Class of 2016 gift to the school is a high school sign to be placed on Gifford Street. “Now everyone will be able to see where we are,” said school principal Mary Gans.