LAWRENCE — During its graduation yesterday, the Lawrence High School Class of 2011 celebrated its triumphs and hardships.
Misael Moscat, valedictorian for the Business, Management and Finance High School, spoke about his struggle to learn English and adopt to a new culture when he immigrated to the United States.
In addition he lived in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina and missed many days of school, which he made up when he came to Lawrence High.
"I didn't let that stop me. My parents always said, 'education is the key to success' and I'm beginning to believe it," said Moscat who will study computer science at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.
The Class of 2011 with its 586 students is the first to graduate after coming in as freshmen to the new Lawrence High campus. Another 60 students will get their diplomas in August.
In her speech, titled "New Beginnings," Kassandra Pirela told fellow graduates to see their future as a blank page.
"Write our own stories. Enjoy every day and take the path that leads to happiness. This is our time to shine," said Pirela, valedictorian for the International School.
One bit of advice Jennifer Cruz gave her fellow graduates was to "come back" to Lawrence High.
"Come back to show others that it is possible," said Cruz, valedictorian for Health and Human Services School.
In her address to the graduates, interim superintendent Mary Lou Bergeron said they were ready to lend a helping hand from the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan, local floods and fires, serving at soup kitchens, hosting food and blood drives.
"Instead of turning a blind eye, they were there to help. Their humanity may be their biggest legacy," Bergeron said.
She also noted the students achieved academic proficiency; exceled in athletics with the wrestling team winning back-to-back Merrimack Valley Conference Championships for the first time and the first state wrestling championship in the school's history. Bergeron also praised the dramatic programs, the robotics team and the ROTC program.