Scituate grads celebrate close-knit community, future of 'no regrets'

Scituate grads celebrate close-knit community, future of 'no regrets'

Makenzie Clancy stands as she is acknowledged as having one of the top three scores on the NECAP exam. (Valley Breeze & Observer photos by Bill Murphy)

SCITUATE - Rain forced the Scituate High School graduation indoors on Friday night, June 13, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm and excitement of the 106 graduates now aiming for success in the real world of adulthood.

Many graduates were honored with special awards or scholarships at the ceremony, a point that Supt. Paul R. Lescault used to suggest that every one of the departing seniors deserves praise for making it through four years of high school to earn a diploma.

"The danger of signaling out (award winners) is that this leaves out many graduates worthy of recognition," Lescault said in his address to the gathering. "Savor and enjoy the pride that your families and friends have in you SLps Have a great life and make it count!"

Every seat in the high school auditorium was taken, with a few folks standing in the back. Large whirring fans on each side of the stage helped relieve the stuffy warmth of the packed house.

For an overflow crowd, a large-screen television was set up in the gymnasium to simulcast the graduation. The boys wore royal blue caps and gowns, with the girls in pure white, reflecting the Spartan colors. Each girl carried a red rose.

"I'm on top of the world," the graduates sang as a chorus.

It is no exaggeration to say that many of the graduates were honored when considering that 57 scholarships worth a total of $80,000 were presented just from the local Scituate Scholarship Foundation alone.

The class received a total of $4.4 million in scholarship offers from colleges and other organizations, officials said.

"Every graduate met the state graduation requirements. It is a wonderful achievement," Principal Michael Sollitto told the gathering, referring in large part to student scores on the controversial New England Common Assessment Program tests. The term "NECAP" drew hearty boos from the graduates. Sollitto announced that as a result of scoring "proficient with distinction" on NECAP exams, three graduates were receiving diplomas commended by the state Board of Education: Austin Barkley, Mackenzie Clancy and Peter Ruthenberg.

"Dream big," Sollitto urged the graduates in his closing remarks.

"May you achieve all your hopes and dreams."

Lescault noted that the Class of 2014 was the first required to meet the new graduation requirements, which besides passing NECAP included an in-depth senior project whose topic each student could choose.

The graduating class came up with clever subjects to study such as, Lescault said, "hosting a variety show," "learning sign language," "running a marathon" and "leading a mission trip to Honduras."

In a high school graduation ritual, the Class of 2014 presented the class gift to its successor, the Class of 2015. The gift is the butterfly garden at the school established in memory of Alexandra L. "Ali" Mink, a well-loved member of the Class of 2013 who died of brain cancer Nov. 7, 2012. Presenting the gift was Hadley Saute, class president 2014, and accepting it was Mallory Cottam, vice president of the rising senior class.

Nicholas Russo, salutatorian, pointed out that the class' four years at Scituate High encompassed, among other things, 720 alarms to get up in the morning, a dozen snow days, and not one, but two hurricanes.

He learned about the town's tradition of sharing when Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011, and candles lit his home for a week. One neighbor with a generator hooked up an electrical extension cord to his house, another heated up meatloaf for the family, and at a third home, Russo said he was thankful to take a shower.

"That's how Scituate operates," he said.

Stressed out during his first two years at Scituate High, Russo thanked his parents for "keeping me from the edge when I needed it" - "they reminded me to make time for the people I love," he said - and he called for a round of applause for "the teachers."

Although at first he wanted to become a politician, Russo has since changed his mind and said he will major in biology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.

Also heading to UConn in the fall is fellow graduate Peter Ruthenberg, whom Russo asked to join him at the podium. Ruthenberg actually had the highest GPA of any senior, but because he was a transfer student and spent only two years at Scituate High he was not eligible to be valedictorian or salutatorian.

Ruthenberg revealed that he was "scared" when he first came to Scituate High, but figured he'd survive as a loner for two years and then make friends in college.

"I was wrong," he said, because everyone at the high school was quite friendly and the last two years turned out to be "the best of my life so far."

"Scituate High School helped shape me," Ruthenberg said, "and I'll never forget the friends I made here. I know now nothing can stop me from achieving my goals in life."

The valedictorian, Hannah Blanchette, graciously noted during her speech that she probably would not be first in her class if Ruthenberg had spent all four years at Scituate High.

"You are so smart," she said to him. She will attend Ithaca College, N.Y., in the fall.

She thanked her parents, Joseph and Donna Blanchette, school officials and teachers. A talented musician who performed in Europe last year as part of a national scholastic program, Blanchette said she especially appreciated the "flexibility" that allowed her to take part in both band and chorus at Scituate High.

She held out as an inspiration to her fellow graduates the story of Bill Borden, a devout Christian and the scion of a wealthy Chicago family who lived more than a century ago. He eschewed his family riches and was committed to missionary work.

Borden's goal was to be a missionary in China and he was on his way there when he died of spinal meningitis at the age of 25 in 1913 in Egypt.

Blanchette offered Borden's motto - "No reserves. No retreats. No regrets." - as a maxim for the future. "Live like Bill Borden," she said, "with no regrets."

Scituate High School held its graduation ceremonies on Friday night at the high school. Here, seniors enter the auditorium for the start of the graduation.
Salutatorian Nicholas Russo delivers his speech at the graduation.
Jordan Gervasio receives the Community Service Award at the graduation.
Kaitlyn Durbano, right, receives her diploma from principal Dr. Michael Sollitto at the graduation.