‘The Class of Change’ Graduates

With their jubilant cap toss on Friday evening, East Hampton High School’s class of 2016 made their graduation official. Morgan McGivern

Abby Roden, an East Hampton High School graduate who was her class’s president three years in a row, had high praise for her peers as she addressed them during on Friday during commencement ceremonies.

“I truly believe that we are the class of change,” she told her 205 classmates. “We cared about each other, we belonged together, and at the end of the day you had to battle all of us to battle one of us because of that. All of us had passion, all of us had drive, all of us had dreams, and none of us were willing to take ‘okay’ over ‘the best,’ and we were willing to fight to get the best.”

This was a senior class that as freshmen raised more than $7,000 in one day during homecoming four years ago. This was a senior class that earlier this year raised about $8,000 for a former student who was involved in a serious car accident. This was a senior class that came together to win three straight March Madness synchronized dance competitions, a contest that the principal, Adam Fine, said offered nothing as a prize for winning first place.

“We decided we would fight to make sure our opinions were heard,” Abby said. “Our class never saw good enough as good enough for each other.”

Indeed, Mr. Fine said in his remarks, this particular class stood out for its civic and school involvement. “For the past four years, you have provided me with your insight and vision for this school,” he said. “Whether good or bad, you always spoke your mind. This contributed to positive change and improvement in this high school. Go forward knowing your input has influenced this school and has left it in better shape.”

The seniors purchased a dogwood tree to be planted on campus as a legacy gift, and donated the remainder of their class money, about $5,000, to two organizations, Katy’s Courage and the Mario Mayorga Scholarship Fund.

Kevin Boles and Lilah Minetree, co-presidents of the Student Association, told the audience that 86 percent of the class had committed to higher education, whether at a two-year, four-year, or vocational school. Fourteen students are headed directly into the work force and three are enlisting in the armed services.

Erin Nolan, the valedictorian, urged classmates to embrace their individuality on the way to achieving success, while acknowledging that failure, at some point, was inevitable. “The reality is, our lives will never end up going exactly how we planned,” she said. “Ultimately, it is how we handle failure and not failure itself that defines who we are.”

As the ceremony ended, the graduates tossed their caps to the sounds of raucous applause, ready to take on the challenge of whatever comes next.

“We wish the future senior class luck,” said Francesca Keogh-Clark, the salutatorian, “as an impossible challenge to fill our shoes awaits you!”

Christine Sampson