‘A very special day.’
By Lars Trodson
For the 86th time, young men and women participated in a Block Island School Commencement — a celebration that always seems to embrace not only the accomplishments of the graduating students but life on the island itself.
“You couldn’t ask for a better day,” said Co-Principal John Canole, standing beneath a blue sky and before the blue water of the Great Salt Pond on Saturday, June 16 at The Narragansett Hotel. “This is a very special day for our students.”
The Class of 2018 had seven graduating students: Ailyn Barillas, Evalene Deane, Jake Douglas, John Jacobsen, Mark Kraeger, Oscar Hernandez, and André Miller.
Supt. Judith Lundsten, who will be leaving her post after three years, said it had been a pleasure to have “gotten to know each and every one of these students.” She introduced the Valedictorian, Miller, and the Salutatorian, Deane, who spoke first.
“Man, oh, man, where has the time gone,” Deane said. Four of the students started school together — whom she called “the four originals” — saying that they had gone from worrying about what was in their juice boxes to “worrying about what we’re doing for the rest of our lives.” They had, she admitted, gotten on each other’s nerves from time to time, while also knowing they could rely on each other. She praised the newer additions to her class — Kraeger, Barillas, and Hernandez.
Miller started off by talking about the community in which they grew up. “We’re lucky, so lucky to live here. It’s all a gift.” But as close-knit as Block Island can be, Miller said it was time to move outside that cocoon. “We need to experience the real world and grow and thrive,” he said.
The most important thing he said he has learned is to not waste time: “Time is the one thing you can’t get back. Use it wisely.”
Guidance Counselor Betty Gomes, who is also retiring, called the graduates the “eclectic rainbow class of 2018” whom she described as an “upstanding group of young adults.”
Gomes announced the many scholarships that had been awarded to the members of the graduating class.
Lastly, guest speaker Dr. Susan Gibbons, reminded the students that even though they share more than 99 percent of the same genetic structure — she called it the “miracle of how much we have in common” — she hoped each of the seven graduates would “embrace their oddities and… stay true to your own quirks.”