LHS grads urged to take chances, stay true to themselves

LHS grads urged to take chances, stay true to themselves

LINCOLN - "Life is just a cycle of thinking you know it all and realizing you don't."

Valedictorian Isra Hussain shared that piece of wisdom with her fellow graduates of the Lincoln High School Class of 2013 on June 14, as they filled the Community College of Rhode Island fieldhouse, donned in blue and white caps and gowns.

Hussain, also the class president, opened with a story about the day she, with new confidence in her driving skills, accidently filled her car with diesel - something her parents found out about Friday night along with everyone else.

The same happened in high school, she said.

"We entered as naive freshmen. ... Senior year arrived and we thought we knew it all," Hussain said to her 220 classmates.

But as they embark on new journeys, she told them to be appreciative and dive into life.

"We will always be naive. We will never truly get it," she said, but "failure is just success in disguise."

Supt. Georgia Fortunato's speech had a similar message.

Just as students became proficient in Spanish and solving algebraic equations, they had to work hard and start at the beginning.

"Achievement does not come easily," Fortunato said. "This will be true on your first day of college or on the first day of your new job."

Aside from putting in the hard work, graduates should seek out mentors and form a support system as they seek to accomplish their goals.

"Behind every success story, there has been a supporting team, mostly unsung," she said, asking graduates to thank their parents. "No one functions entirely alone."

Student Council President Taylor Flaxington also told her peers to thank their parents.

"They stuck by you whether they wanted to or not," she said, earning laughs from the crowd.

As a class and as a generation, they have been through a lot, Flaxington said. They were in first grade on Sept. 11, 2001, and they were finishing up senior year when bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon.

"So I urge you to be newsworthy, Class of 2013," she said. Not as people like the bombers, "but as a generation that strived and thrived."

Flaxington ended her speech by taking a photo of herself at the podium with the audience in the background. It was the first of four "selfies" that night taken by each of the student speakers, including Hussain, Salutatorian Marissa D'Amelio and Class Vice President Andrew Juckett.

During the ceremony, the LHS Band performed "Pomp & Circumstance" and "The Heritage March." The LHS Chorus sang the national anthem and "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons.

There was also a "Through the Years - Class of 2013" video presentation.

This class has proven itself compassionate, LHS Principal Kevin McNamara said.

This year's prom king, Nathaniel Banks, abdicated his throne at the dance, McNamara said, and honored classmate Brendan Cunha by crowning a new king.

"One by one, table by table, you rose to your feet and gave your prom kings, Nathaniel Banks and Brendan Cunha, a standing ovation," he said.

McNamara told his students, "Your generation shows great promise in living up to President (John F.) Kennedy's challenge" to "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

"Always put service for others before yourself," he said.

Juckett also talked about the two prom kings during his speech as class vice president.

"We have an extremely positive environment," he said, telling classmates they had all set "an amazing example" for future classes.

That environment is one that fosters choices and self-discovery, School Committee Chairwoman Kristine Donabedian said.

As a LHS student herself, she recalled a scheduling conflict in her senior year. She could not initially fit a physics class into her course load, hindering her chances of pursuing an engineering degree in the future, she said.

But a teacher gave her advice that she still abides by to this day, Donabedian said, "that the decisions I make at this point in my life should open doors."

So she found a way to take the class. And even though she ended up pursuing accounting, she said she was better for having learned that lesson.

"Choice is good. Choice is empowering," Donabedian said. "I gained a choice made without regrets. Taking that class taught me the value of keeping that door open until I wanted it closed."

So as students head "off to tackle the big and the better," D'Amelio said in her salutatorian address, hold onto memories, but be open to new experiences.

"Good judgement comes from experience," she said. "Experience comes from bad judgement."

The class has made it through four years of high school together, D'Amelio said.

"That's a given in our class," she said, "that we'll always stand by each other's sides."

But graduates should still always be true to themselves, said Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond, and mindful that time moves in only one direction.

"Have confidence in your true self," he said, as students create "bucket lists" of places to go, things to do and goals to achieve, and start to check off accomplishments.

"At some point, we will all stop to take inventory of our dreams," Almond said. "I wish you all the great success and happiness, and in the end, the smallest of bucket lists."