By Julie McCay Turner
Bedford High School Principal Heather Galante and Superintendent Jon Sills struck similar notes as commencement exercises for the Class of 2018, Bedford’s 61st ceremony, began at the Tsongas Center at the University of Lowell on Thursday evening, June 7.
“Great teachers,” noted Galante, ” didn’t enter the field simply to teach content, but to learn the stories of [their] students, to transcend content, and to bring students and their stories to light.” Sills went on to add his appreciation for “recognizing that not everything is as it seems and that so much of what we think we know is filtered through relatively narrow individual experience.” He was moved by the Class of 2018’s civic activism as they sought each other out to explore multiple sides of thorny issues.
In her reflections, Galante confessed that setting a theme for her message was harder than she had anticipated until she saw a video of herself and her daughter, riding on Universal Studios’ Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rocket set to Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic, I Will Survive. Then the roller coaster as a metaphor for life came instantly clear.
Speaking to parents and caregivers about ‘mom arm’ and thrills/perils of watching children grow up, Galante turned her attention to the Class of 2018.
“We have given you the tools you need to be successful — perseverance, grit, confidence, kindness, and empathy,” she told the Class of 2018, “You are active learners, resourceful thinkers, and effective communicators . . . You are ready to face life’s ups and downs. . . I want you to live with wonder and joy . . . I want you to try to see life from a different point of view . . . I want you to be startled and be OK . . . Be resilient . . . Keep your eyes wide open . . . and have the courage and confidence to take that ride . . .”
According to his class advisor Kristen Milano, three-time Class President Michael Chen is “a kind, grounded, positive and incredibly hard-working person, widely revered by his peers and teachers . . . . [he] leads gently and by example, working hard behind the scenes . . . ”
Helen Pulizzi’s Spanish teacher Dana Curran praised her “authenticity . . . with a keen understanding of who she is and what she’s about . . . She is curious, reflective, and tenacious . . . All my students have made me want to be a better teacher, but Helen has made me want to be a better human . . . The world needs more Helens.”
Class Vice-President Natalie Knight introduced the faculty speaker, invited by a vote of the Class of 2018. William Berlino, a 15-year member of the faculty teaches an English Literature class – American Perspectives, coaches soccer, and started the school’s Italian Club.
A gifted storyteller, Berlino brought Principal Galante’s and Superintendent Sills’s opening thoughts full circle when he introduced Larry the Roofer. Describing the years when construction work funded his education, he “learned to value and respect these men who opened my eyes to a whole other world, and I learned a valuable skill set I’ve been able to carry with me.”
Then the members of the Class of 2018 walked across the stage, with School Committee chair Michael McAllister presenting each diploma before mortarboards flew into the air.
Editor’s Note: The Bedford Citizen thanks Jeff JHO Hoyland for sharing his photographs, and Bedford TV for live streaming the Class of 2018 ceremony.
All of the following photographs are (c) Jeff JHO Hoyland, 2018 all rights reserved
Click each one to see a larger image
And this final image, thanks to JGMS Principal Kevin Tracey’s Twitter feed!