Over 250 members of the Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) Class of 2018 graduated from the school on Sunday, June 3. The ceremony, held at 1:00 pm in the Hawkes Field House, was highlighted by traditional addresses from valedictorian, salutatorian, and class president.
The class was also addressed by Superintendent of Schools John Doherty and RMHS Principal Adam Bakr before receiving their diplomas from School Committee Chair Chuck Robinson and Vice Chair Elaine Webb.
After the class entered to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” and the national anthem was performed by graduate Emily Cain, Salutatorian Emma Weston thanked parents and teachers for their commitment to their students, “Without the help of all of you . . . none of us in the Class of 2018 would be here.” Weston commented. She then reflected on the time spent at RMHS. “High school became so much more than a place to learn, but an era of our lives,” Weston reflected. She left the class with the promise, “No matter where we end up, we are all in this together.”
The valedictory address was given by Mathias Kools who shared lessons learned from Daniel Teixeira, a classmate with cerebral palsy. Schools shared about Teixeira’s consistent hardships in doing everyday tasks and how Teixeira’s attitude has inspired him. “In spite of all these challenges, he has a bright outlook,” Mathias shared. He then introduced Teixeira to the crowd to a standing ovation. Mathias concluded by encouraging his classmates, “If we have faith in ourselves . . . we will rise to the highest of heights. Our futures are in our own hands.”
After a rendition of the song “I Lived” by the RMHS chorus, Doherty addressed the graduates. He offered four pieces of advice, inspired by road signs. “STOP – to hug and thank parents and anyone else who has helped you get here, and do it personally,” Doherty began. “GO SLOW – take the time over the next several days to express appreciation to teachers, coaches, and staff who have guided you,” he continued. “MERGE – treat each other with respect. How we treat each other will determine the success of this culture.” In conclusion, Doherty advised, “EXIT – choose the exit you want and dream big. It’s not about the destination you reach, but the journey along the way.”
Principal Bakr thanked parents, administration, school committee members, as well as Reading elementary and middle school teachers and administrators for all they had done to help the students reach this point. He affirmed the graduates as they head out into the world with the simple phrase, “You are ready.” Bakr then proceeded to read the name of each graduate as the members of the Class of 2018 came forward to accept their diplomas.
Charles Wang, President of the Class of 2018, concluded the ceremony by reflecting on his experience as he changed from a focus on himself to a focus on others, especially his classmates. “You are a class of free-thinkers who will apply your education,” Wang observed. “We have a voice and we will not stand to let others speak for us.” He then led the class in the traditional shift of their tassels before Bakr dismissed the class for the final time.
The RMHS graduation ceremony concluded at 2:45 pm.