TYNGSBOROUGH – Superintendent Jill Davis and Assistant Superintendent/Principal Michael Barton are pleased to announce 562 students graduated from Greater Lowell Technical High School on Friday.
Four separate graduation ceremonies were held on Friday, at the Tsongas Center at UMASS Lowell, one for each career and technical education cluster at the school. The Construction Cluster ceremony began at 10 a.m., the Personal Services Cluster ceremony began at 1 p.m., the Transportation and Manufacturing Cluster ceremony began at 4 p.m. and the Technology Cluster ceremony began at 7 p.m.
Each ceremony began with a processional, followed by a performance of the National Anthem by professional Dracut-based pianist and vocalist Ralph Funaro, and a moment of silence in memory of Cross Letizia, a senior plumbing student of Dracut who passed away this year. Speakers included Superintendent Davis, the valedictorian, the salutatorian, and commencement speaker and U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Team member Noelle Lambert.
“I am honored and privileged to celebrate with you today this tremendous milestone in your lives,” Superintendent Davis said. “This year and a half was not what you envisioned about high school. The world was turned upside down by a global pandemic, yet in a time marked by fear, you were fearless. That is exactly how we will remember you, embracing remote learning, keeping up with your studies, many of you while working. Strength, determination and grit got you to this day.”
Salutatorian Zachary Varzea, of Tyngsborough a programming and web development student, spoke next. Varzea plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. His hopes to pursue a career either in Child Protective Services or computer science.
“When COVID hit, it was as sudden as a car crash. We thought it was going to be a long break– the only thing true about that was that it was long,” Varzea said. “We longed to return to our classrooms and face-to-face learning … Somehow we managed to struggle through the cold, hard winter months. We’ve gone through this much together. Now it is time for us to see what we can do on our own.”
Valedictorian Lexi Cotto, of Lowell, a health assisting student, spoke after Varzea. Cotto plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Westfield State in nursing in the fall, where she has been awarded the Presidential Scholarship. She hopes to later pursue a master’s degree and specialize in pediatric oncology. She eventually would also like to earn a second master’s degree in education and become a nurse educator.
“To my fellow Gryphons: we made it,” Cotto said. “As some of us move on to college, trade school, the military or straight into the work force, don’t let your journey end there. Life is full of many experiences: don’t settle. You only get one life so do the things that make you happy and put a smile on your face. From here on out we make our own choices and control our own destiny, so make good choices.”
The commencement address was given by U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Team member Noelle Lambert. Lambert, a Division 1 athlete at the time, was in a serious moped crash in 2016 on Martha’s Vineyard and lost her left leg. Thanks to support and encouragement from her coach and teammates, she was able to return to the lacrosse field during her junior and senior years of college at UMASS Lowell.
After graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, she qualified for the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field Team. At the World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai, she broke the U.S. women’s record in the 100-meter sprint with a time of 16.31 seconds. She also founded the Born to Run Foundation, a nonprofit which works to help child amputees obtain prosthetics so that they can run again, after learning how costly prosthetics are after her accident.
“Let my story be an example to never give up, and anything is truly possible,” Lambert said. “I came back to the field when nobody thought I could. As a class you have all persevered to achieve this huge accomplishment, and that is something you should be very, very proud of. Determination and drive are what have gotten us to our own finish lines. Success isn’t magic. People on the outside are just looking in at you getting your degree, but you know all the hard work it took.”
Diplomas were awarded at the ceremonies by School Committee Chair Kempton Giggey. A moment of reflection was overseen by Senior Class Advisor and Biology teacher Kimberley Febres followed by the recessional during which Funaro performed “Rondeau” by Mouret.
“This year has been tough and you all have proven you are tougher,” Febres said. “You have accomplished your dreams by sitting here today by setting goals and working towards them. We honestly couldn’t be more proud of you. You have shown the world what it means to be Gryphon strong. Please don’t forget the lessons you have learned at Greater Lowell.”
For the latest updates about Greater Lowell Tech, visit the school’s website here.