on June 08, 2013 at 6:43 PM, updated June 08, 2013 at 6:49 PM
SPRINGFIELD – Jordin Whyland told her fellow graduates at Sabis International Charter School to close their eyes and think back to their first day at school.
“Open your eyes,” she told her classmates. “You made it. Be proud.”
Sabis' 13th commencement exercises for the Class of 2013 was held Saturday afternoon at Symphony Hall. There were 96 graduates, and 100 percent of them will go to college, an accomplishment noted by Whyland.
She quoted Thomas Edison, saying there “is no substitute for hard work” and said 50 students will not have to pay tuition at a Massachusetts college or university because they are John and Abigail Adams scholars, a designation they earned for their stellar MCAS performance.
Graduate Ronald Kenniston used humor in his address to the crowd. He joked he enrolled a few years after the first Sabis school was founded in 1886 and has been waiting a “very, very, very long time” to graduate.
Monique Hill talked about her journey to get to graduation. How she lacked a stable home life. How she sometimes lived with extended family, sometimes in foster homes. How each of the environments brought challenges. How it was hard to concentrate and study amid noise and chaos.
In her junior year, Hill said she had an awakening, and realized everything she was dreaming about regarding her future she had right at Sabis. This fall, she will enroll at Holyoke Community College to study computer security.
“Nothing is more important than having your dream,” Hill said.
Her speech was met with cheers and a standing ovation.
Other speakers included Karen Reuter, the school’s director; graduate and head prefect Hannah L. Sullivan, who delivered the opening and introduced speakers; Mayor Domenic J. Sarno; Ellen McDonald, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees; and George Saad, vice president-operations for Sabis Educational Systems Inc.
Reuter said Newsweek designated Sabis as one of the top 2,000 high schools in the country. She said the graduates received a total of $7.5 million in scholarships.
Said Sarno, “How does it feel, Class of 2013?”
Cheers erupted throughout the hall.
“Remember that feeling,” Sarno said.
Sarno advised the graduates to be on time, be polite, hold a door open for someone and dress properly.
“It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning . . . I wish you continued success,” Sarno said.
Saad told the graduates to their time wisely, and told them to accept that they will make mistakes. He added that success means going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
“So buckle up and get ready to enjoy the ride,” Saad said.