Nashua South Class of 2017 asked to 'appreciate your loved ones'
MANCHESTER - Jenesy Zambrana's name was the last of 387 called at Nashua High School South's commencement, held Saturday at the SNHU Arena.
And when it finally was announced, her mom, Wila Hernandez, jumped to her feet. "I love you!" she called to her daughter, clutching a bouquet of red roses for the graduate.
"That's my girl!" she announced, beaming proudly.
It was a boisterous celebration, with shout-outs, cheering and the occasional air horn punctuating the awarding of diplomas.
Nashua South Principal Keith Richard told the graduates their school pride had inspired the faculty and set an example for the underclassmen.
"So as you leave us today, I ask that you continue to carry that sense of pride to whatever the next community it is you join," be that college, employment or the military, he said. "These communities may not know it yet, but our loss is certainly going to be their gain."
Valedictorian Mary Zhu reminded her classmates that what they do from now on will reflect on Nashua South. "Every person you help, every company you found, every Nobel prize you win: all of it will bring greater honor and pride to this school," she said.
Class president Kevin Genao said commencement is the start of "our bright futures."
"If you believe in yourself, you will be unstoppable," he said. "And if you believe that there are no limitations, then your possibilities will be endless."
Genao urged his classmates to have the courage to pursue their wildest dreams. "The distance between your dreams and reality is called action, so build a vision and get straight to work!" he said. "Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction happens to be the biggest step of your life."
Psychology teacher Michael McQuilkin, chosen to give the faculty address, shared some life lessons, starting with: "Appreciate your loved ones."
"You don't have to be famous to be successful; you just have to make your loved ones proud," he told them. "Behind every teenager who believes in himself is a parent who believed first."
McQuilkin asked the graduates to stand if they had a teacher, coach or another person who inspired them. The entire class stood.
Then he asked them if they had told that person "how much they mean to you," and most sat down.
"Never miss an opportunity to thank the people who inspire you," McQuilkin said. And he took the moment to honor his own dad who, he said, "led by example, facing adversity with such poise and dignity."
The ceremony concluded with the faculty forming two lines to salute the graduates as they passed between them, offering handshakes and hugs along the way.