METHUEN — Amid the obligatory acknowledgement of the centrality of change in a graduation, a student dropped a startling fact: Yesterday’s graduating class first began school the week of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Great change has defined much of this class’s experience since the start from their country down to their own high school building, students and school officials said.
“The journey of the class of 2014 began a long thirteen years ago,” valedictorian Michaela Cullum-Doyle said last night under a clearing sky at Nicholson Stadium. “Many people hear the day Sept. 11, 2001, and automatically think of one of the most tragic events in United States history. But I, and the rest of the class of 2014, think about our first day of kindergarten.”
Principal James Giuca noted the world-changing historic events that unfolded after that bright Tuesday in 2001. “How these events shaped your perspective, I cannot imagine,” he said.
Closer to home, their high school changed right out from under them, as the classes were shuffled between buildings and a major renovation and expansion project got underway.
Last year, the refurbished South House opened its doors to the senior class that graduated last night. The North House is on schedule to be completed this month.
Lauren McAndrew, who spoke as honor essayist, recalled walking through the orange doors of the South House, which no longer exist, as a freshman.
“Since those days, not only have we transformed, but so have those physical surroundings that characterized our high school years: The orange walls, the dividers between the classes, the bridge, the random murals, countless broken water bubblers, the tropics known as the North House, the bathrooms without mirrors, and the endless cement blocks have been demolished,” she said. “For years we weren’t even able to get to gym class or lunch without braving extreme cold, torrential rain or blizzards that terrorized us daily.”