By Yadira Betances
---- — In giving advice to his fellow Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School graduates, Senior Class President Peter Comeau quoted legendary leader Mahatma Ghandi, who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
“You are the change,” the Bradford teen said in his address to his 272 classmates and their families at the commencement ceremony last night in Whittier Field.
“If you remain the amazing, creative and influential people you are today, the world you create will be a better place,” he said.
Today the class is indeed amazing.
In addition to having won entrance, and many scholarships, to good colleges, students were also lauded for their volunteer efforts and community work, which included building a pergola at Penacook Place Nursing Home, building a shed for the Groveland Public Library, restoring the weathervane atop Merrimac Firehouse, performing complimentary beauty services for the elderly and styling wigs for cancer patients.
Graduation speaker, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, seemed very impressed by the class’ achievements.
“You have excelled in being the best that you can be,” he said. “You in turn can be the leaders of the 21st century and the backbone of our society, only if you keep that commitment.”
Whittier serves students from Haverhill, Newburyport, Amesbury, Georgetown, Ipswich, Groveland, Merrimac, West Newbury, Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury.
Of last night’s graduates, 69 percent are going on to college, 28 percent will get a career and another 3 percent will join the military.
Graduate Nick Elwell of Haverhill said working at the school’s Poet’s Inn Restaurant helped him gain confidence, especially when dealing with people.
He was a student in the culinary arts department and a member of the National Technical Honor Society.
“Coming here was life changing,” said Elwell, who transfered from public school during his freshman year. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made because before I came, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Others said the school helped them learn how to juggle a busy schedule — good preparation for life after high school.
“Whittier taught me how to handle a job, school and sports at the same time,” said Cassey Glode of Methuen, who will attend Merrimack College to study health science and business.
Still, parting last night was hard for many.
“This moment is bittersweet,” said cosmetology student Dallas Bailey of Haverhill. “I’m excited to start a new life, but I’m going to miss my friends.”
Carpentry student Timisha Johnson of Salisbury summed up the mood quite well.
“I’m nervous and excited for what’s to come,” she said.