Class of 2018 takes its next step

Jun 7, 2018 by

Published in the June 8, 2018 edition

MELROSE — From Omar Wacime Abbas to Ellen Vonyee Zinnah, the Class of 2018 walked away from Melrose High on Friday night, June 1, and into its future.

With sometimes-threatening clouds over Fred Green Memorial Field, nearly 230 seniors received diplomas during a ceremony long on reflection of the past and hope for what lay ahead.

In the annual Valedictorian Address, Christy Ilia said that while it took some time, graduates eventually learned “the ways of high school and progressed with each paper we wrote, each research project we completed, and each test we took. By the time we got to senior year, we were pros, prepared to overcome any high school challenge thrown at us.

“However, this past year, we faced the tough decision of what to do after high school, a crucial milestone in determining our future. We considered whether we wanted to attend college, what we would major in if we did, or what profession we wanted to pursue. The uncertainty associated with these choices was similar to that of freshman year, but on a much larger scale.

BEFORE HEADING TO commencement, the Class of 2018 gathered in the Marcoux Gym. Here, from the left, are Emma Bates, Helen Burtnett, Lauren Reilly and Tara O’Shea. Complete graduation coverage appears inside this issue. (Lisa Lord Photo)

“These decisions have led us to top-ranking universities, the military, or into the workforce. Either way, from this point on, we should look forward to finding ways to fulfill our own dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem. We may work to change legislation, treat patients with seemingly incurable diseases, hone our athletic abilities, showcase our artistic talent, or launch the next Snapchat. Whatever we choose to do, we should approach any challenges with the mindset that we will be able to achieve our goals through persistence and determination.”

The Class of 2018 came into the athletic complex to the traditional processional “Pomp and Circumstance,” performed by the Melrose High School Band.

The talented Evynand Akombi sand our National Anthem, with the band accompanying her.

After Supt. of Schools Cyndy Taymore offered some remarks, 2018 Class President Lauren Freed gave the Welcoming Address, and talked about the pride she feels in what members accomplished together.

Saying the Class of 2018 chartered a ride aboard the S.S. Championship, Freed added, “we have all been spoiled by Boston Sports and blessed that in our life time there have been 10 Boston championship parades. Remarkably, each of the parades all fell on days we were all out ‘sick.’

“But the sweetest victories of all weren’t the ones we celebrated on those freezing cold days in Boston. They were the ones we celebrated right here. Side by side with our classmates.

“We worked hard on the field, on the ice, and in the gym. And it paid off.

“We watched Melrose girls’ basketball and the Melrose boys’ soccer team win the league.

We watched Melrose volleyball go all the way to the state championship game.

We watched girl’s lax pick up their first league championship and boys lax dominate the league.

We watched our Melrose girls cross country team make all states.

The Melrose Drama Club lights up the stage for endless awards, mock trial and VEX Robotics tear up competitions, and MHS TV, who I hope is getting mostly my good side right now, is on the road to just having Amp It Up hand them 3K every year .

“And we seared our endless Melrose pride in the minds of town after town, as the Melrose football team tore up 13 consecutive games and a heck of a Super Bowl at Gillette, taking a state title home on those country roads.

“We did all of this together. Whether you were in the stands or on the field, you were a part of it. As Coach Kaz puts so perfectly following his basketball teams overtime win, we are a team, and not just a team with one superstar, but a team with many superstars. He could not be more right. He might have been talking about the basketball team, but I think it applies to our whole grade. I mean, our football team didn’t even have one quarterback — we had two. That’s what our class as it exists today is made of. It’s a team where everyone shines. We are a bunch of underdogs—no one saw us coming. So keep surprising people. Keep taking risks. Keep showing up. Keep each other well. Beyond this day, never stop doing those things and remember that you can all do so much.”

One of the highlights of the Melrose High graduation ceremony each year is the METCO address, and on June 1 Briana Previlon certainly did not disappoint.

She talked about the stamina and commitment it takes to get up well before other classmates to make the trek to Melrose from Boston to go to school. She spoke of the sacrifices made by her family and friends, and how eventually she began to feel she belonged here.

“In a sense, it was hard to come to school everyday and feel connected, especially when I did not live in Melrose. Within the clubs and activities I was able to feel a sense of community. I began to establish a sense of belonging because everyone was so welcoming and had similar interests. Without the experiences I would have been lost at this school,” Previlon told the audience.

She concluded, “Attending Melrose Public Schools through METCO has taught me the amount of hard work and dedication I have to put in as a woman of color. Yet, you still don’t get the recognition you deserve. It was here I was able to come out of my shell and excel alongside my peers. I have learned how to love my deep melanin, Haitian culture, and speaking on important issues. It was here I learned how to be unapologetically black… you can see the real me. Thank you.”

The Honors Chorus sang “You Will Be Found.”

In a great speech, Melrose High Principal Jason Merrill said, “You will have roots here at Melrose High School forever…. mine were waiting for me right here where I left them. Don’t ever forget where you came from and that you always have a place at MHS. You will always be a Red Raider.

“Be ready for an opportunity and take advantage of it.

“Be different. Take risks. Stand for something.

“Say thank you…remember to appreciate those around you.

“Remember to say ‘I Love You.’

“Be a good friend, we all need them. 

“Remember someone is always looking up to you.

“Life will have its challenges; it is what you do when faced with those challenges that will define you.

“Find that something you are passionate about. Set goals and have dreams…and go after them with everything you’ve got and in the words of former MHS Principal, the late Claude Croston; ‘Never, never, never give up!’

“Remember to help your neighbors grow good corn.

“Have courage, work hard and be kind.

“I hope that one day you all get the chance to feel the way that I do right now.

“Keep each other well.

“Good Luck, I love you, Congratulations, and thank you. Go Melrose!”


In the Farewell Address, Charles Stanton talked of how the Melrose community came through for him in a time of need and how he will never forget the importance of feeling a part of something.

He concluded, “(I)t is time to move on and become a part of a new community. And if there is no new community then build one because we have learned from one of the best. Finally, remember you are a part of the long red line and you can never lose that.”

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