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Dedham High School ceremony modified after lightning storm

Posted by Your Town  June 1, 2011 05:59 PM

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Dedham High School graduates didn’t have the graduation on the lawn of the Endicott Estate that they were expecting tonight because of lightning, thunder, and rain that began just 10 minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to begin.

The ad-libbed ceremony was moved onto the estate’s back porch as family and friends crowded onto the covered porch to try to watch their graduate receive a high school diploma.

Some parents were upset that weren’t able to see their children walk across the stage.

Robin Majors said her daughter, Shobin, was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and she wasn't able to capture the moment with a photograph.

“I’m really upset,” said Majors in an interview. “They should get a free photo since we can’t even see them or take pictures.”

Kathy Coakley, whose son Brian was supposed to be the graduation’s master of ceremony, said that she was disappointed.

“They need to let them do it again even if it’s just at the school,” said Coakley.

She said that her son had been waiting for four years to be able to address his fellow graduates.

Some students said they were disappointed that they weren’t able to walk across the stage, but others said that having their graduation delayed and modified made it more memorable.

“I’m just dealing with it,” said Kayla Ross. “It’s a memory.”

The keynote speaker, University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun, gave an abbreviated version of his prepared speech after the 176 diplomas were conferred.

Calhoun told the graduates that high school would not be the best years of their lives, but there would be better things to come.

“I envy you for all the great things that you have left ahead of you,” said Calhoun.

He ended his remarks in a true coach-fashion with: “Go get ‘em.”

Superintendent June Doe offered her apologies for the unexpected changes to the ceremony.

“I wish we would have been able to offer you better accommodations and weather,” said Doe.

Assistant Principal John Murray estimated that about 400 people were crowded into the Endicott Estate.

“I think everyone was more or less pleased with the more intimate setting,” he said. “It’s bittersweet.”

Dedham firefighters and police were inside the estate to monitor the crowds that were packed tightly into the building.

The student speakers spoke inside the estate, after some graduates and their families had already left.

Murray said that their remarks would be recorded and posted on the school’s website.

Salutatorian Kelly St. Cyr’s prepared remarks were ironic after the ceremony had been shortened.

“Today is not a day that we want to go by quickly because it is a day that we’ve been waiting for,” said St. Cyr.

Valedictorian Susannah White said that some of her speech was irrelevant because of the adjustments in the ceremony. Her prepared remarks mentioned walking across the stage to receive a diploma.

But she did say that graduation was a celebration.

“Graduation is not a termination, but rather it is a celebration of all the things to come,” said White.

Sarah Favot can be reached at

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