Approximately 360 students graduated from Braintree High School on Saturday, where the graduates walked across a makeshift stage on the floor of the gymnasium to avoid the downpour outdoors.Parents and family crowded into the room as well, some watching from a live feed in the smaller auditorium. Officials estimated that over 2,000 people came to the event.
Despite the rain outside, it was a festive indoors, with students joking about the future as they spoke words of wisdom to their classmates.
Matthew Harrington, the Wamps class president who will attend Plymouth State University in the fall, joked that the students may still be immature, but that they were ready to move on to the future.
Margaret Reagon, Braintree’s salutatorian, who will attend MIT in the fall, told her classmates that nothing will compare to this day.
“Finally we’re done with high school… [but] whether you loved high school or hated it, this is not the end of your education,” she said. “Take what you have learned here and expand it.”
For Valedictorian Victoria Machado, who will attend Harvard in the fall, graduating has meant a new beginning.
“I want you to remember what it feels like to be 17 or 18 years old and at the same time brand new. Remember high school – all of it,” she said.
Urging her classmates to remember, she spoke of the challenges yet to come in life, but said that having these memories would help her classmates get through them.
The ceremony recognized not only the seniors, but also Headmaster David Swanton, who will retire this year after 34 years as an educator.
“You will be missed,” said the students presenting the class gift as well as a memento to Swanton.
Superintendent Peter Kurzberg acknowledged the many roles Swanton has had at Braintree High, from being a student all the way to working up at headmaster.
Kurzberg went on to speak about the standard Braintree High graduates had set. Just by looking at the schools the graduates will attend, it was clear he wasn’t exaggerating.
Scholarship recipients alone will go to such institutions as George Washington University, Bridgewater State University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services, Boston University, Brown, Holy Cross, Simmons, Suffolk, Vollanova, McGill, Harvard, Stonehill, Bently, Emmanuel, UMass Amherst.
“You represent the best and future of this community, but of the country as well,” he said.
Over 90 percent of the student body will go on to higher education, officials said. Nine classmates will go into the armed forces.