By Lauren DiTullio
---- — LAWRENCE – Each speaker on the podium at Greater Lawrence Technical High School’s graduation last nigh reminded the class of 2014 not to lose sight of what they love.
Valedictorian Alexander Eden of Methuen earned a 4.28 GPA over the course of his high school career, and has a perfect attendance record. Still, his studies were just a small part of the picture. In addition to serving as class president, Eden participated in math competitions, was a member of the creative writing and drama clubs and found time to volunteer at the MSPCA. During his speech, which drew inspiration from Walt Disney, he urged his classmates to “hold on tightly to (their) passions and dreams,” even if it’s only as a hobby.
“Remember that your dreams are important, no matter how far-fetched a dream may seem,” he said. “You must strive for that long-term goal, because once you achieve it, you will feel complete.”
Eden will attend UMASS Lowell in the fall and plans to become a biology teacher. Like the other speakers, he commended his classmates for choosing a vocational school, and invited them to continue to challenge the status quo.
“Show society what it truly means to live big. Set the bar as high as it can go, so you can make a dent in history,” he said.
The 295 graduates of the class of 2014 leave the school with expertise in 18 different fields, ranging from biotechnology to marketing. Key note speaker Jony Perez, a member of the Greater Lawrence Technical School class of 1991, began his remarks by mentioning the “skills gap” that prevents many high school and college graduates from being hired in the U.S. today. He commended the school for its versatile curriculum, which he said left him equally prepared to pursue a college degree or join the workforce. He expressed faith that every graduating senior will “help grow the nation’s economy.”
“You’ve graduated from a technical school, so you have the skill set to enter into these challenging fields,” he said.
Samanta Morrillo, who studied business technology, said that her biggest challenge over her four years of high school was prioritizing in order to accomplish her goals. She joked that keeping up the pace in line as the students processed in was also a challenge. Flanked by family and fellow students in the school’s parking lot, she said she felt proud.
“I am happy that I’m graduating. It feels like an accomplishment,” she said.
Assistant Principal Kathleen Duff passed along congratulatory remarks from Principal Elizabeth Freedman, who was not present at the ceremony because she had a baby girl last week. School superintendent John Levoie recognized the class for their “collective strength,” which he observed in a number of projects the senior class took on. He said he was proud to see the seniors raise money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. He recalled the graduates enthusiasm while constructing their float for Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade and encouraged them to show the same creativity and care throughout their lives.
“Take the spirit, drive and commitment on the road as you did the day of the parade ... and make a positive impact wherever you go,” he said.
Salutatorian Angel Ramos urged his classmates to continue taking the “road less traveled” in a speech inspired by the infamous Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” By choosing a technical school, he said, the students have ensured they are ready to join the 21st century workforce. He also reminded students not to lose touch with high school friends or forget the experiences of their youth.
“Never forget where we came from,” he said. “It has more meaning to succeed at difficult challenges than it does the easy ones.”