METHUEN — A gray sky threatening rain yesterday did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the Presentation of Mary Academy graduates, the first co-ed class in the school’s half-century history.
Thirty-two graduates received diplomas yesterday during the 52nd commencement at the Dupre Sports and Arts Center, including John Kahla, the first young man to graduate from PMA.
“It’s been a great time being here,” Kahla said after the ceremony. “I wasn’t feeling lonely at all, surrounded by all the students. We’re all close family here.”
Students and instructors used their speeches to urge the graduates to use the educational and moral grounding they received at the private Catholic academy to be agents of change, hitting on the theme time and again to describe the new nature of their school, their new lives and the evolution they have gone through over the last four years.
“PMA has taught us that we can change the world, and it has given us the tools to do so,” said salutatorian Margaret Tucker. “PMA has enabled us to be not only ourselves, but also our best selves by teaching us the value of community and the virtues of faith and service. Instilled in us is the confidence to take on the world and change it to become a better place.”
English teacher Greta Zygmont told them to remember the theme they had heard a lot over the years, “discover you,” because “it’s an important sense to have.” And rather than being narcissistic, the slogan should remind the young women and man that self-discovery is not a solo project. It is an endeavor influenced by the people and ideas nearby.
“We are all connected,” Zygmont said, choking back tears. “So when I talk about you, the graduates, I’m also talking about me. You have all played a fundamental role in each other’s consciousnesses and identities.”