Pomp and Circumstance for 174 Smithfield graduates

Pomp and Circumstance for 174 Smithfield graduates

Smithfield High School held its 2013 graduation ceremony at Bryant University on Tuesday evening. A packed crowd of family and friends celebrated. Gabriel Lew Contillo smiles at his family as he waits in line to receive his diploma. (Valley Breeze photo by David Wuerth)

SMITHFIELD - Mary Grundy of Smithfield had two reasons to be proud during Tuesday night's Smithfield High School graduation ceremony.

First of all, she is a teacher in the town school system, at Vincent J. Gallagher Middle School. She can remember when the graduating members of the Class of 2013 were 8th-graders, and as anyone familiar with adolescent development can tell you, a lot of changes take place in a student's life between middle school and high school's end.

"I'm so proud of them," she said of the graduates. "I feel a lot of pride in these students because I was their teacher in the 8th grade. It is interesting to see their development, to see them turn into young men and women."

Secondly, Grundy's son, Benjamin Michael Grundy, was one of the graduates. "His plans are big, they're so hopeful and full of excitement," his mom said. "His future is so bright, just the possibilities of what his life could be." Benjamin will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall, studying occupational therapy in a 5¬?-year program.

He was one of 174 graduating seniors receiving their high school diplomas during commencement exercises Tuesday night, held in a Bryant University auditorium packed with hundreds of family members and friends. There were almost as many flower bouquets on hand in the audience as there were digital cameras flashing. The graduates wore caps and gowns of green for boys, gold for girls - the Sentinel colors.

In a trend that seems to grow stronger every graduation year at every school, the flat tops of many mortarboards were personalized with eye-catching mementoes, such as family snapshots, sports logos, ribbons and bows, sparkles and spangles and rhinestones, even a makeshift piano keyboard in black and white, perched atop the head of a music student.

The Smithfield High School band played "Pomp and Circumstance" as the graduates filed into the auditorium. Principal Daniel Kelley welcomed all to the school's 46th graduation ceremony. He told a story about a young man who every day chose to be positive, and he urged graduates to do the same. "Every situation is a choice," he said. "You can choose to accept conditions as they exist, or you can choose to act to change them."

Richard Iannitelli, chairman of the School Committee, encouraged graduates to think about how they can best use the supposed "15 minutes of fame" allotted to each of us. "You could be on reality TV, you could be on YouTube, you could write a novel," he suggested, but whatever you do, do it well. "Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well," he said.

Alex Jenkins, salutatorian, told graduates that "our passions are the most important part of ourselves," but people often hold back on acting on these emotions out of fear. "I ask you, after you graduate, go home and look inside yourself and find the thing that you have a passion for, and pursue it," she said. "Be strong. Be brave. Be beautiful. Be you."

Michael Paiva, valedictorian, reviewed the many changes that took place in the world during the graduates' four years of high school, from the first black man in the White House and the death of Osama bin Laden to the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup two years ago - "one of the most memorable times of my high school career," he said with a chuckle.

After thanking his family, faculty, staff and community leaders, Paiva ended his remarks by quoting William A. Ward (1921-1994), an American author of inspirational sayings, and his recipe for success: "Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; dream while others are wishing."

The Class of 2013 chose to dedicate the graduation ceremony to class advisers Lora Calise and Adelio Cabral, and a note in the program book said the event was held "in loving memory" of Edward Hill, Smithfield teacher and director of technology.