‘Impressive’ group of CHS grads urged to use compassion

‘Impressive’ group of CHS grads urged to use compassion

Ryan Gaboury, above, makes his way to receive his diploma Monday evening at Cumberland High School’s graduation. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

PROVIDENCE – Members of Cumberland High School’s 2017 graduating class will undoubtedly go on to great things, said Supt. Robert Mitchell at Monday’s 123rd commencement ceremony, held at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

This class showed remarkable wisdom, honesty and courage as they completed their high school careers, said Mitchell. This was an “impressive group,” he told the crowd.

Mitchell told the story of a quote he heard from a 5th-grader at B.F. Norton Elementary School that has stuck with him for years.

“Better to try and fail than to never try at all,” he told graduates.

Principal Alan Tenreiro, speaking at his last graduation before heading to Mount St. Charles Academy, took a line from Yankees great Yogi Berra and urged students to follow their dreams.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” said Tenreiro.

As long as students stay true to themselves and don’t look back, they’ll be fine going in either direction at the fork, Tenreiro explained.

Mitchell thanked Tenreiro for the “profound positive impact” he’s had during his years at CHS, where the outgoing principal has improved both culture and climate, he said.

Oluwatona Campbell, student government president for the class, served as master of ceremonies, telling 276 other graduates that “we must never forget where we came from.” Campbell told classmates to chase their dreams. This class is a family now, and this is an exciting new chapter for the family, he said.

School Committee Chairman Ray Salvatore, whose daughter Madison was among the graduates, used his own experience as a salesman to pitch the idea that all of these graduates will need to be in sales from now on. Learning the art of persuasion will serve these students well, he said.

Students will choose what their legacy will be, said Salvatore, “so what’s going to be your legacy?” They have just one chance to write their story, said Salvatore, and should make it a good one as they live lives of empathy, generosity and honesty.

Mitchell, offering words of advice from other educators, told students to look for the silver lining in life, to conquer fear, to never procrastinate, to be courageous, to be willing to accept responsibility and say they’re sorry, to be grateful, and to always be positive.

Graduates thanked their teachers and administrators for the impact they had in their lives.

Valedictorian David Cabatingan reminded classmates that they’re entering “a deeply imperfect world,” one where inequality, prejudice, negativity and injustice are everywhere.

These graduating students, unlike “leaders who divide us,” should work every day to better that world, said Cabatingan, using the power of compassion and selflessness. The 2017 class should never doubt that they have the power to change the world for the better as they “live to help others,” he said.

Salutatorian Colleen Enestvedt said there were times students didn’t think they’d make it to this point, but they persevered.

“We did it,” she said.

The group of “cheerleaders” they’ve had in high school will grow now that they’re heading off to college and careers, said Enestvedt.

Also at Monday’s graduation, the Cumberland High School Band performed for both the processional and recessional and the Clef Singers performed “Homeward Bound.”

A 50th anniversary diploma was awarded to Deborah Garabedian, of the Class of 1967.

Class of 2017 President Giana Ritchie also spoke and passed the flag to 2018 Class President Hannah Ballou.

This year’s class advisers, Stephanie Dasilva and Heather Hall, presented diplomas.

Cumberland High School graduating seniors, from left, Colleen Enestvedt, Sophia Fernandes, Alexandria Evers, Tyler Girard and Ryan Gaboury stand beneath the Providence Performing Arts Center marquee before the graduation ceremony. Cumberland held its 123rd commencement at PPAC on Monday.
Graduates line up in the PPAC foyer awaiting their entrance into the auditorium. Cumberland High School held its 123rd commencement ceremonies at the Providence Performing Arts Center on Monday evening.
The Cumberland High School Class of 2017 walks down the aisle to proceed to their seats for the start of graduation.
Kyle Medeiros flexes his muscles to the delight of his classmates while on his way to get his diploma.
Nathaniel Claro awaits the start of the Cumberland High School graduation ceremony. Classmate Bryan Colburn is in the background.