HATHORNE — Superintendent Dr. Heidi Riccio and Principal Shannon Donnelly are pleased to announce the graduation of 343 students from Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School.
A graduation ceremony was held on Friday, June 4 on the football field of Essex Tech’s campus.
“If I could describe the Class of 2021 in one word, it would be ‘grit,'” Superintendent Riccio said. “This last year was tough, and our students have worked hard to reach this moment. Beyond grit, I would like to express the need to be a good human. I ask that you hold that door open for someone, you get to know your neighbor, you learn another person’s culture, you gain an appreciation for another’s differences, and you seek to understand others.”
Of the graduating class, 75% have plans to pursue either college or apprenticeship training, 23% will enter the workforce immediately and 2% have enlisted in the military.
The ceremony began with a welcome message from Principal Donnelly, who also recognized and thanked those in the audience who are veterans, active members of the military, first responders, frontline workers and graduates entering the military by asking them to stand. Ten graduating seniors who earned the rank of Eagle Scout also led the Pledge of Allegiance. Freshman Mara Stein, a carpentry student of Peabody, then sang the National Anthem.
“We have had quite a year! I want to thank all of you for your amazing flexibility and cooperation,” Principal Donnelly said. “All of our students and staff have shown remarkable commitment and tenacity. And I want you to know how proud I am of all of you. I hope that down the road when times are tough and you feel like it may be time to quit, you will remember how hard you worked to be successful during this challenging year.”
School Committee Chairman Mark Strout also spoke.
“Graduates, I want you to rest assured that the administration, faculty, and staff of Essex North Shore have prepared you to be highly productive members of the 21st century economy, and to be life-long learners,” Chairman Strout said. “The School Committee wishes all of you every success in life, and wants you to know that you will always be part of the Essex North Shore family.”
Sen. Joan Lovely then gave the keynote speech.
“I know getting here hasn’t been easy. Over the last year, you have faced challenges unlike any class that came before you, and yet despite those obstacles you have persevered,” Sen. Lovely said. “Every single one of you should be incredibly proud of your accomplishments. For each and every one of you, your diploma is key for your next step, whether that is heading up to two or four year program, or heading straight into the trade you learned here at this amazing school.”
Additional speakers included Superintendent Riccio, the salutatorian, Essex Tech’s 2021 MAVA Outstanding Vocational Technical Student, valedictorian and the class president.
Salutatorian Helen “Ellie” Clark, a Biotechnology student of Swampscott, will attend Salisbury University in the fall, where she will major in Biology. In her speech, she spoke about patience.
“Patience is, in essence, all about doing everything you can to achieve your goals and understanding that you may not see the fruits of your labors immediately,” Clark said. “While instant gratification is becoming increasingly common in our world, most things in life still require this kind of patience, and that’s why it’s so important.”
Valedictorian Molly McDonald, an Environmental Technology student of Swampscott, plans on attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. this fall, where she will major in Engineering and minor in Environmental Science.
“Entering Essex Tech in 2017 as overwhelmed, wide-eyed freshmen, we are now graduating in 2021 as strong, confident young adults,” McDonald said. “Collectively, we have the opportunity to determine the future of this planet, to determine what kind of world we want to live in, and to determine how we can each make a difference. No matter what each of you are pursuing next year, whether a job in your field of study, a two- or four-year college program, serving in the U.S. military, or a gap year as you see fit, we can all make a difference.”
The Class of 2021 officers also presented the class gift, a donation to the Catherine Larkin Memorial Cottage Fund, and thanked the Class Advisors, Maura O’Brien and MaryElyse Sullivan, for their hard work and support. Assistant Principals Jennifer Skane and Joel Spruance then presented the diplomas.
Following the presentation of the diplomas, seniors Angela DeAngelis, of Danvers and Kevin Sweeney, of Wilmington sang “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield.
Class President Tyler Geary then gave a farewell address.
“On behalf of the student body, I want to thank all the administrators and our guidance counselors, faculty, staff, parents, and loved ones who have helped guide us to where we are today. I think we all agree in saying that we wouldn’t be here without them,” Geary said.