METHUEN — Samantha Cullum, salutatorian for the Methuen High School Class of 2013, delivered a message to those who bullied her during her grade-school years: “Look at me now!”
On one occasion, she recalled, her eyeglasses were broken and she had to transfer to another school to get away from the teasing and taunting.
“I was bullied,” Cullum told fellow graduates and others who attended the ceremony at Arthur Nicholson Memorial Stadium yesterday afternoon, “because I was the weird smart girl.” Over the years, however, Cullum learned that being very bright is “nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.
When it came time to choose a high school, she picked Methuen High — even though it meant being in the same building with students who once taunted her.
“Methuen High School was the best decision for me,” she said. She fell in love with biology and she’ll be majoring in that subject at Northeastern University next year.
She challenged classmates and others in the audience to work to bring about a world filled with “kind, loving human beings.” The confident young woman who was subjected to the indignities of bullying in the elementary grades received thunderous applause after discussing a subject she called “a little bit uncomfortable.”
Valedictorian Emily West Geary, who is headed for the University of Vermont and aspires to become a pediatrician, reminded her fellow graduates of the sacrifices many of them made during their high school years, such as staying up all night to study for an exam or complete a paper.
She noted that many members of her class endured those “all-nighters” because they held down jobs while attending school.
“Sacrifice is by no means a bad thing,” she said. “Without sacrifice, there would be no gain.”
Principal James Giuca proudly read from a letter he received from Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, where the graduates recently enjoyed a class trip. The management of the resort called Methuen’s Class of 2013 the “best-behaved group” and remarked on how “polite” and “respectful” the local young people were, Giuca said.