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Shawsheen Tech Graduates Encouraged To 'Feel Free To Dream But Get Real'

Jun 05, 2015 12:36PM ● By Bill Gilman
(Editor's note: Attached to this article, as PDF documents, are the complete texts of the Valedictorian, Salutatorian and Class President speeches, as well as Superintendent Charles Lyons' Keynote Speech from the Shawsheen Tech graduation.)

As Raine Ferrin gave her Valedictory Address at the Shawsheen Tech Class of 2015 Commencement Exercises, Thursday night on Cassidy Field in Billerica, she declined to dip into the jar of tired cliches that generally accompany such occasions.
There would be no quotes from Dr. Seuss or the Tao of Pooh or pearls of encouragement to live life to the fullest.
Rather, Ferrin, a Tewksbury resident, spoke of the admiration she had for her classmates and all they had accomplished, as well as confidence in their future success.
"I cannot advise you because we are all equal, sharing the same field today. Sweat and tears were shed by us all in the journey to get from the gymnasium during Freshman Orientation to our seats at graduation," said Ferrin. "The stress of the long days and long nights nearly incapacitated us. But only nearly. We have given, and we have received. And we, as a class, have conquered.
"Class of 2015, you are all so incredibly talented ... Whatever your next step may be, all of you here today have proven that you have what it takes to make your life what you want it to be."

Similarly, Salutatorian Taylor McNeil, also from Tewksbury, encouraged her classmates not to be defined by numbers and noted that being ranked second in her class doesn't hold the same significance to her that it once did.

"Being your salutatorian, number two in the class, does not define my true character. The same is true for you," said McNeil. "You are not what your report cards say. You are not your GPA. You are not your class rank. In this moment and in the future we are our own individuals. Simple people who have succeeded, ready to take the next steps of our lives, living despite the numbers and letters around us."

In all, 337 graduating seniors received diplomas Thursday evening, including 109 from Tewksbury. Among them was Senior Class President Richard Corella, whose Farewell Address featured several humorous anecdotes from the Class of 2015's four years at Shawsheen Tech.

The ceremony was significant, in that it was the final graduation ceremony for Shawsheen Tech Superintendent Charles Lyons, who will be retiring later this year. Not only did the Class of 2015 dedicate its yearbook to Lyons, it also selected him to be their keynote speaker for the Commencement Exercises.

Lyons has served as superintendent since 1987 and has overseen huge growth in both facilities and student population at Shawsheen Tech. He has also guided the school in a transition from a traditional vocational training facility into a state-of-the-art technical learning center, attracting many of the best and brightest from the region and serving as a springboard for those pursuing higher education, as well as those training for careers.

On his speech, lauded the accomplishments of the Class of 2015, including successes in the Skills USA competition, athletics championships, and the fact that Shawsheen Tech led the state this year in Co=operative Education participation (70 percent).
As they look toward their future, Lyons encouraged the graduates to "feel free to dream, but get real."

"Last year, The U.S. has 115,000 janitors, 83,000 bartenders, 323,000 restaurant servers, and 80,000 heavy‐duty truck drivers all with bachelor’s degrees," said Lyons. "I care about you, so I’m not going to sugar coat my remarks and tell you everything will be okay if you only follow your passion."

Lyons also used the speech as a bully pulpit to slam standardized testing and government mandated curriculum programs like Common Core.

"Our educational practice is uncommon at its core. It actually assesses students upon entry, and through a scaffolding process, builds upon those skills ensuring competencies respected by employers," said Lyons.

"We need to replicate schools (like) Shawsheen Valley Technical, and applaud assessments that value our mission. Students here are both challenged and nurtured," he said. "There should not be a one size fits all mentality when judging schools, and we need strategies to stop segregating children by race and class through zip codes. We need practical solutions to lessen the divides, both in Massachusetts and throughout America."

Among those who also spoke at the ceremony were Shawsheen Tech School Committee Chair Paula McShane Lambert and state Rep. MacLombardo (R-Billerica).

Here is the list of the 109 Tewksbury Residents in the Shawsheen Tech Class of 2015.

Joseph Abbott

Tyler Abele

Amanda Aldred

Alyssa Aurilio

Alexandra Bagrowski

Brett Battaglia

Jeremy Beauchesne

Hannah Benning

Robert Bonyman

Mackenzie Boucher

Zachary Breau

Connor Brennan

Maxwell Brown

Claire Cafarelli

Daniel Callanan Jr

Erica Carfagno

Katelyn Carmichael

Christopher Casey

Joshua Cho

Garrett Christopher

Emily Coneeny

Randall Cookinham

Richard Corella

Kaleigh Costa

Christopher Coste

Stephanie Daley

Alyssa Davis

Christopher DeMattia

Nicholas Deming

Marisa DePierro

Matthew DiFelice

Emily Dufield

Kevin Duggan

Timothy Falanga

Jacqueline Farraher

Aidan Farrell

Steven Ferreira

Raine Ferrin

Daniel Fritz

Cody Frontain

Kaleigh Gammon

Cristina Gath

Chelsea Grant

Hannah Griffin

Christopher Groves

Kara Guttadauro

Kaile Hajjar

Austin Harrington

Mitchell Harris

Kerri Hegarty

Ryliegh Hoffmann

Benjamin Hogan

Lauren Hudson

James Hutchinson

Kelly Igo

Skylar Jacques

Patrick Jennette

Connor Joyce

Joshua Kenney

Michael LaCroix

Joseph LaLonde

Andrew Langone

Andrew Lanza

Michael Lanza

Darien Lavino

Steven Lee

Samantha Lopolito

Megan Lynch

Taylor Lynch

Jacob Mackey

Joseph Maffeo

Cristian Maglio

Paige Mahoney

Joseph Marquis

Rachel Mascia

Taylor McNeil

Christopher Meehan

Jasmyn Mirabal

Skyla Mulvey

Robert Nicholas III

Joshua Nickerson

Matthew Nigrelli

John O'Brien

Patrick O'Brien

Karina Ocejo

Jake Paolucci

Nicole Paquin

Patrick Poirier

Jamie Ray

Kristan Richardson

Raychel Roane

Nicholas Salvato

Nicole Salvato

Nicholas Santoianni

Michele Sessa

Kathleen Silk

Macayla Taylor

Cory Tirrell

Erin Toland

Efrain Torres

Jonathan Tower

Jacob Van Ryzin

John Waddell

Colleen Waite

Aaron Wenetta

Mariah Wentzell

Amanda Woods

Sarah Woodworth

Alexsay Zemetres

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