By ANDREW MARTASIAN
Special to the Standard
KINGSTON - There were cheers, tears, and beach balls as the Exeter-West Greenwich Class of 2012 graduated at URI’s Ryan Center last Saturday.
Graduation speakers advised students that just because they were done with high school doesn’t mean they’re finished with tests as their characters will be challenged time and again when they went go out into the real world.
Outgoing EWG Superintendent Dr. Thomas J. Geismar congratulated the students on their hard work and told them to remember three important words: “You never know.
“That’s what makes life exciting and also what makes life a little scary,” he said.
Geismar told the graduates the unexpected often happens and they need to be prepared for whatever life may throw at them.
“High school is part of that preparation,” he said.
EWG Principal Brian Butler told the Class of 2012 that life could take them “out of their comfort zone,” and the world
would likely challenge them in unanticipated ways.
“In the real world, tests are unannounced and they can come at any time,” he said.
Butler said the graduates’ integrity and character will be evaulated and he hopes they’ll make wise decisions.
“You may do things that people do not see, but it will be building your character and it will make you a person of value,” he said.
Butler told the 141 graduates to find a job they could love, and not one that simply paid them the most money. He urged students to define and strive for their own definition of success, but to make sure their idea of success “is one that will help those around you make a better world.”
He also stressed the importance of family and community to the graduates.
“We will send you, the Class of 2012, off today with plenty of accolades, but also with the knowledge that we, as your EWG family, will always be here for you. We will be like the beacon leading you back to our shores should you ever need us.”
“Your parents are giants and you’ve been able to stand on their shoulders so that you have a better view of where you’re going and what you’re about to become.”
Butler told the students their parents had already experienced many of the challenges they would soon face, and to seek them out for advice whenever they may need it.
He said he has high expectations for the Class of 2012 and congratulated them with “well done,” at the end of his speech.
After the Senior High School Concert Band performed Samuel Hazo’s “In Flight,” EWG’s salutatorian, Abbey Dallas, applauded her classmates.
“This is a tribute to your hard work and your dedication, not only to the school, but also to the community,” she said. “Each and every one of you deserves to be proud.”
Dallas said high school had been a time to discover themselves, make memories and establish friendships that will last forever.
She told the Class of 2012 that the only thing that really matters in life is happiness.
Dallas also told her classmates they’re ready to chase their dreams. She thanked the teachers, saying, “You did more than help us reach our goals, you helped us set them.”
Dallas thanked her family for their support. She had to hold back tears as she turned to her twin sister and EWG valedictorian Samantha Dallas, to congratulate her.
“Sammy, I can think of no one better to be sharing this stage with today. You are so talented and dedicated. Thank you for always being there to push me and support me,” she said.
Samantha Dallas returned the sentiment in her Valedictorian Address.
“You taught me who I am, what I’m capable of and what we can be together,” she told her sister, as tears streamed down her face. “You’re going to be an incredible doctor, an incredible person, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.”
Samantha acknowledged that the achievements of her class would not have been possible without the expertise of their teachers.
“Our teachers have taught us how to read and write, how to add and subtract, but they’ve taught us so much more than that,” she said. “I can truly say that the teachers I’ve had here, they’ve given me my love of learning.”
She also praised the EWG parents for being there for their kids and making them who they are today. She said it was time for her class to go out into the world, be their own people, and “give back to the next generation what you’ve taught us.”
Because she has known most of her friends since the second grade, Samantha said it would be interesting to see what her classmates do with the rest of their lives.
“You guys are an amazing group of people, you really inspire me.”
Class President Angela Russo said the small class was like a family, and she felt as though she had “140 brothers and sisters.
“We have spent 13 whole years, learning, laughing, loving.”
After the speeches, the Class of 2012 showed their peers support by cheering students as they received their diplomas. Beach balls flew through the air and the occasional air horn sounded from the audience as the ceremony drew to a close.
Then the Class of 2012 tossed their caps into the air and walked outside to, as Butler put it in his speech, “move the world.”