ANDOVER — Superintendent John Lavoie is pleased to announce the graduation of the Class of 2021 from Greater Lawrence Technical High School.
Including Lawrence High School students who took evening classes through the district’s After Dark Program, GLTS recognized 396 graduating seniors on Thursday. A commencement ceremony was held on the football field of the Louis E. Gleason Stadium on the district’s campus at 6 p.m. that day.
“As students here at GLTS, you learned the importance of being a committed team member that can contribute to the goals of any team you aspire to be part of. Being part of a successful team will give you a sense of belonging and make you feel valued which is what we all seek as human beings,” Superintendent Lavoie told graduates. “Participate in your community’s organizations, events, and government. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe is right. Be fair, honest, and, most importantly, care for others.”
Superintendent Lavoie also thanked the academic and vocational educators, guidance counselors and district staff who went above and beyond this year and last to support students as they navigated the challenges of the pandemic.
He also presented Yeribel Fermin, of Lawrence, a carpentry student with the Superintendent’s Award. The honor recognizes Fermin for her exemplary drive, hard work and dedication to her education. She has earned a full scholarship to Northeastern University in the fall where she will study architecture. She immigrated to Lawrence for the Dominican Republic at the age of 7, and has worked tirelessly throughout her high school career, earning a 4.09 weighted GPA, excelling in the male dominated field of carpentry among her peers, and successfully completing a co-op placement.
Kassandra Jean-Marie, a graduate from the Class of 2016, gave the keynote speech. She is a second year student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and holds a bachelor’s degree from UMASS Amherst with a double major in Microbiology and Public Health. She also belongs to the Worcester Asylum Clinic team, and is additionally working with the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services on vaccination efforts and racial equity and justice as part of her community assistantship.
“We have been challenged like never before to remain faithful to the values that make us human,” Jean-Marie said of the hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Compassion, gratitude, and respect were found to be what truly mattered in the middle of a pandemic and subsequent debilitating economic conditions. And amidst all these trials, and tribulations, you have managed to receive your diploma — a symbol of hard work and dedication. I am positive that I speak for all of us here today when I say that we are in complete awe of the grit that this class has shown.”
Additional speakers at the ceremony included Interim Principal Susan Zielinski, the valedictorian and salutatorian.
The valedictorian is Ashley Lima, of Lawrence, a medical assisting student who will attend Northern Essex Community College in the fall to study English. She is certified in CPR/First Aid and OSHA, and is a Certified Medical Assistant. She has experience as a medical assistant at Steward Medical Group Doctors Park in Andover, Steward Medical Group in Methuen, and New England Eye and Facial Specialists in Lawrence, and was a caregiver assistant at New England Cardiology in Lawrence. She graduates with a weighed 4.39 GPA, and received the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for her exemplary performance in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Educational Exams (MCAS).
“We have worked hard, overcame adversity to get to this moment, but it is important not to dwell on our hardships and remember all of our positive experiences,” Lima said. “Although we will be heading down different paths and directions, we will always remember what we have learned at GLTS. We will continue to persevere, grow and be lifelong learners.”
The salutatorian is Nicholas Delegas, of Andover, a business tech student who will also attend Northern Essex Community College in the fall with an interest in studying finance or accounting. He graduates with a weighed 4.3 GPA . He gained experience at Reading Cooperative Bank as a co-op student and received the GLTS Business Tech Department’s Outstanding Vocational Student for Business Technology Award, Roland Cotton Award, Digital Credit Union (DCU) Award, Business Technology Advisory Award, MVA Presidential Certificate of Merit and NHS Officers Award. He also placed third in the Customer Service Competition at SkillsUSA as a sophomore, and became a captain on the wrestling team that same year. As a junior he served as the National Honor Society Treasurer and as a senior he served as National Honor Society President. He has received several scholarships.
In his speech, Delegas emphasized how much his class has overcome: the COVID-19 pandemic, the Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions that rocked the community in 2018, and the personal challenges his peers may have faced as well.
“Going forward, I only have one piece of advice for my fellow graduates; remember what you’ve already endured, accomplished, and learned; when life presents you with unprecedented challenges, remember your four years in high school, and remember that you have the strength and potential to weather the storm no matter what,” Delegas said.
Students were limited to two guests and per state guidelines, those who remain unvaccinated were advised to wear a mask to the outdoor event. Out of an abundance of caution, groups were also required to maintain six feet of distance during the ceremony, food and drinks were not permitted, and attendance was limited to school employees, the keynote speaker, students and their guests, who registered in advance.