Byline: Ashley Bishop
WORCESTER - Families and friends crowded the stage last night, trying to snap photos of 303 South High Community School graduates as they filed into the DCU Center to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Principal Maureen R. Ciccone recognized that, for many of the students, the path to graduation day was filled with obstacles.
"Many of you entered the school without speaking a word of English," she said. "Some of you had to take the MCAS four or five times to earn your spot on stage tonight. Some of you could not afford the clothes, cell phones or iPods that are so important in the lives of teenagers.
"Whether your four years were filled with anxiety or joy, you have a reason to celebrate today."
Valedictorian Kaitlyn M. Brady recognized that the community atmosphere of the school, enhanced by the lack of "real walls" within the building, attributed to the success of the class of 2007.
"It was always easy to find a friendly face at South," she said. "When you were in English class, you could glance over the so-called `wall' and see friends sitting in psychology class.
"When we step out of the DCU Center tonight, we step into a foreign land, where finding a friendly face will be much more challenging."
Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes told the graduates "school ends, but education doesn't.
"We fully expect great things to come from all 303 of you."
Superintendent James A. Caradonio highlighted the financial benefit of a high school education, telling class members to imagine a $600,000 check pasted to the back of their diplomas.
"It's not a check from Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates," he said. "It's a check from you to yourself. Economists at Northeastern University have shown that in the state of Massachusetts, the lifetime earnings of those with a high school diploma is $600,000 more than those without a diploma.
"If you want to double your money, get yourself a college degree."
Commencement speaker and School Committee member John L. Foley reminded students of their responsibility to the Worcester community after they leave South High.
"You are the faces of Worcester," he said. "You are the people who will determine the future of this community."
He also recognized Assistant Principal William P. Beando for his "graduation" of sorts from South High.
After four years as assistant principal there, Mr. Beando will take over as principal of Wachusett Regional High School in the fall.
SOUTH HIGH COMMUNITY SCHOOL CLASS OF 2007
WORCESTER -Michelle Addo, Ama B. Adow (H), Stephanie G. Allen, Marvin A. Amaning, Nana K. Amoah (H, NHS), Sherri L. Andersen (H, NHS), Julia N. Ankrah, Julian N. Ankrah, Michelle E. Atchue, Zarmeena M. Atta, Jessica E. Barry, Tiffany M. Berrios, Astrid A. Blanco (HH, NHS), Abigail A. Boateng, Javier A. Bobadilla, Bogdan Bobinski, Vongjan Bounphasaysonh, Juliet Bourkarikari, Shanique M. Boykin, Zachary T. Brackett, Kaitlyn M. Brady (HH, NHS), Amanda L. Brigham, Brittney L. Brooks, Charlene S. Brooks, Ryan J. Brownell, Janay E. Bull, Evelyn M. Burgos (H), Gladys T. Burgos (H), Raquale R. Burnett, Jeanclaude A. Byfield, Kevin Cabrera, Monique N. Caissie, Kayla A. Caouette, Santy J. Caraballo, January L. Cardinal, Joyce J. Cardona, Luiz S. Cardoso (H), Wesley R. Carlson, Delilah L. Carrion...