By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Last night was an extremely emotional time for Patricia Melancon.
Not only did she graduate from North Andover High School, with all the feelings that evoked, but right after she received her diploma, she got a surprise embrace from her brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Vorce.
“I started crying. I was surprised,” Malancon said. The brother and sister hugged for several minutes and the crowd of graduates, faculty, officials, families and friends gave them a standing ovation.
Vorce, assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said he arranged the surprise visit with Principal Carla Scuzzarella. He sat behind a phalanx of selectmen, School Committee members and other dignitaries and was hidden from the 315 graduates’ view – until it was time for his sister to get her diploma.
Vorce is a 2011 graduate of Greater Lawrence Technical School. Melancon plans to attend Northern Essex Community College next year and study to become a special education teacher.
Time was the subject of valedictorian Caroline Manteiga’s address. Four years from now, “when we look back, we don’t want to see that we’ve wasted time,” she said. Wasting time, she noted, means different things to different people.
“What’s important is how you define the difference between a waste of time and meaningful time and how you act on that definition,” said Manteiga, who is headed for Brown University in the fall.
Salutatorian Julie Boshar, who is also the class president, said every member of the Class of 2013 is entitled to claim success.
“Don’t let go of something because you think it is unattainable. Plan to work hard; nothing can be accomplished with passion, motivation and a little elbow grease,” said Boshar, who will attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Many of last night’s graduates are armed with specific goals. Paul Wolfe, headed for Pennsylvania State University, plans to study actuarial science. He’s very good at math, likes working with numbers and hopes to make a lot of money.
Matthew McCarthy will study environmental engineering at San Diego State University. He also plans to join Air Force ROTC.
McCarthy aspires to become a pilot and he doesn’t mind committing 12 years of service to the Air Force to achieve that goal.
Benjamin Paster will attend the Gallatin School at New York University. He aims to be a technological entrepreneur.
“It was fantastic,” he said of the preparation offered by North Andover High School.
Ellen Barth, who will study mechanical engineering at the University of New Hampshire, said she had “mixed emotions” about graduating from high school. She “very excited,” she said, about attending UNH.
“Wherever it takes me,” she said when asked what she plans to do with her engineering degree.
Jacqueline Foley said she looks forward to attending the University of Connecticut. She’s undecided about a major because the has many interests, she said. An accomplished singer and actress, she won an award for her achievement as a student of French.
Katie Lavery plans to study business at UMass Amherst. She’s not exactly sure what her major will be, but she’s confident that she’ll “find out when I get there.”
Scuzzarella called this latest edition of NAHS graduates the “best class” she has had in six years as principal.
“Don’t let negative people bring you down,” she said.