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Merrimack graduates told to go and take risks

Sunday News Correspondent

June 17. 2017 10:29PM
Peter Petrigno, social studies teacher at Merrimack High School, congratulates graduates Laynie Rosati, Makayla Fulgoni and Shaina Decosta prior to Saturday's graduation ceremony. (Kimberly Houghton/Sunday News Correspondent)

MERRIMACK - As the Class of 2017 said farewell to Merrimack High School on Saturday, the graduates were urged to take risks and find their inner passion throughout the next chapter of their lives.

The 260 seniors gathered one last time to celebrate their academic accomplishments, reflect on the past 12 years and look ahead to their futures.

"Find the time to discover yourself," Salutatorian Anna Correia told the graduating class, encouraging them to seek out their inner joy by being themselves and following their dreams.

Merrimack High School has prepared the graduates for the real world, Correia said, adding that it is up to each of them to use their unique and different voices to change the world one journey at a time.

Life is not about advanced placement classes, SAT exams and varsity sports, she said. It's about being the best version of yourself.

Principal Ken Johnson said the future can be overwhelming, but he reminded the graduates to live each day overcoming individual obstacles that will one day make up the bigger picture.

Follow the school motto - "Believe, Go Forward and Inspire" - Johnson told the seniors, congratulating them for making their own history and facing the next challenge with optimism.

"On this day the clock begins again," he said, adding that success does not come without failure and every act of courage requires some amount of risk.

Things may not go as fully planned, but Johnson urged the graduating class to take its time doing what inspires each of them and make the world a little better step by step.

According to David Vaccaro, class president, the seniors have each spent about 720 days at Merrimack High School - 180 days during each of the past four years.

During that time, he said the graduates have learned humility, gained confidence, have handled responsibilities and attained a sense of belonging.

"Each year we started at day one," he said. "Now, my question is, what will our next 180 days be?"

He said some seniors may stay on the same path, while others may need a 180-degree turn. The things that are most valuable in life will require some risk, he said, encouraging them to conquer the next 180 days and beyond with the skills they learned at Merrimack High.

"Speak up and speak respectfully," said Tiffany Knowles, class valedictorian. Use your talents and your attributes to persevere, help others and bring something different to the table, she told her peers before they received their diplomas.

Each graduate is incredible in their own way, and she encouraged them to embrace their strengths and weaknesses while thanking others who have pushed them to be their best.

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