EASTHAMPTON — To the 119 Easthampton High School graduates receiving their diplomas on Friday evening, class of 2019 valedictorian Shane Gravel shared some parting advice for his fellow classmates.
“Don’t follow your dreams,” Gravel said, striking a practical yet humorous note. “If you are dreaming, you are probably sleeping, and if you are sleeping, you are probably not doing anything that’s getting you closer to achieving your goals … Rather, get up and do something – whether it’s simply making an action plan or doing something small, everything counts.”
Graduates marched in front of the school clad in maroon caps and gowns, with honors students donning golden stoles, as the school band performed “Pomp and Circumstance,” prior to Gravel’s speech. Parents, guardians and relatives sat in chairs by the front entrance and attempted to stay cool in the hot sun by fanning themselves with the ceremony’s program.
Gravel recounted many of his classmate’s accomplishments and encouraged students to focus on the attainable instead of “shooting for the stars.”
Easthampton High School placed first at the “We the People: The Citizen and The Constitution” state competition for the second year in a row; the high school’s soccer, swim and track teams sent several athletes to western Massachusetts championships this year; and the drama club put on two productions this year.
“It’s true that we must be primed for what’s ahead of us with goals and preparation, and it’s safe to say that our high school experience has done that well,” Gravel said. “But we also must be open and adapt to the things we can’t plan as many of us will be venturing out to new and unfamiliar environments this fall.”