‘Sea of blue pride’ as Shea graduates

‘Sea of blue pride’ as Shea graduates

Josfaih Ngafaih dances in his seat during a performance from the Shea Chorus during Shea High School’s commencement ceremonies at Max Read Field last Thursday, with 201 graduates. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

PAWTUCKET – The wave of blue swept across the new and improved Max Read Field for Shea High School’s 2017 commencement ceremonies last Thursday evening.

Friends and family members cheered for their graduates as they arrived for this opening showcase event at the new state-of-the-art athletic complex. Students, from diverse cultures and backgrounds, smiled and waved back.

Principal Jacqueline Ash shared advice her grandfather gave her about the four “P” words for a successful life: product, promotion, people, and purpose. To her, the most powerful “P” that her grandfather taught her is purpose.

“Purpose, the sense of who you are, what you are doing, and how you fit into the world establishes meaning,” she said. “Leading a meaningful life will stretch your boundaries. It will allow you to think outside the box, to be more creative, to have a can do attitude.”

Ash reminded students that their possibilities are endless.

“This sea of blue pride, the graduating class of 2017, you are a wave of hope for this world,” she said.

Commencement speaker Terza Silva Lima-Neves, a political science professor at Johnson C. Smith University, urged students to feel empowered by their roots. Lima-Neves grew up in the city, pointing out the house across the street where she grew up.

She spoke about her journey as a Cape Verdean woman, which has been filled with hard work and “haters,” but has led her to the great success she has achieved today.

She drew a laugh when she paused for a “social media break.” Graduates jumped at the opportunity, whipping out their phones to post pictures documenting the milestone.

In addition to remarks by Joseph Knight of the School Committee, Mayor Donald Grebien, and Supt. Patti DiCenso, several students took the stage to address the crowd.

Valedictorian Amalia Peña-Pérez compared the 2017 class to a plant. Each student was cultivated at Shea High School, and has been nurtured by parents, teachers, administrators, and custodians, all of them having roles similar to a gardener.

“Now, we are no longer just seedlings, but a determined community with strong roots ready to expand our perspectives and prosper in the world beyond our Shea victory garden,” she said.

Peña-Pérez emphasized that it is human nature to adapt to one’s new environment, and this transition is merely an opportunity to adapt again.

Salutatorian Michael Kodua said his class has become a close-knit bunch over the past four years.

“We’ve become a family,” he told his classmates. “Thank you for the lasting memories and moments, thank you for befriending me, thank you for sharing a love for empanadas and dancing bachata with me. To all my Hispanic friends, thank you for making me feel Latino once in a while. And to my Cape Verdean friend, thank you for making me feel like I was Cape Verdean.”

Kodua also thanked teachers and family members who made his accomplishments possible.

“Many of us share a similar narrative of our guardians emigrating from overseas to provide a better life for themselves and us. This momentous day will testify that we wish to make you proud and ensure that your sacrifices were not in vain,” he said.

Gerlanda DeCarlo performed the national anthem, winning cheers as she hit the high notes, and Shea Glee Club’s Classic Noise sang a rendition of “Unwritten.”

Kayla Rodrigues gives an energetic wave to family and friends as she makes her way across the field for Shea High School’s graduation at Max Read Field last Thursday.
Terza Silva Lima-Neves, who delivered the commencement address, directed the graduates to work hard and never take “no” for an answer from “someone who doesn’t have the authority to say yes.”
Delilah Ramos has her cap adjusted by Shea teacher Joanne Doyle. The two have known each other since Ramos was in Doyle’s 7th-grade class at Slater Junior High.
Students react to a speaker’s request for a “social media moment” when they are told to take a “selfie” of themselves and post it on Instagram during Shea High School’s commencement ceremonies at Max Read Field last Thursday.