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Salutatorian Speech: Abby Bates

Salutatorian Abby Bates delivered the following speech at Graduation on June 11, 2016:

I would like to begin by thanking our superintendent Dr. Canfield, our principal Dr. Booras, our vice principals Mr. Chip Hill and Ms. Wagner, our class advisors Ms. Meara and Ms. Austin, all of our guidance counselors, our amazing nurse Ms. Grant, our coaches,  the librarians, custodial staff, and office administration.  I would like to thank all of you for the work you do every day for our school and for the class of 2016.  I would like to thank my parents, family, and friends for supporting me, as well as those of all the graduates. Your support means the world to us. I would also like to thank the teachers of Sandwich High School.

These days it has become more and more prevalent for teachers to teach to the test. For those of you who haven’t heard this phrase before, it describes the process of having students memorize facts, definitions, formulas, and textbooks with the singular goal of passing a standardized or school issued test.  It does not require comprehension or analytical skills of any kind.  Teachers are forced to dedicate hours of school time towards teaching their students the art of passing tests.  The pressure to perform is daunting for both student and teacher.  That is why I would truly like to thank the teachers at SHS who decided to teach us something more than testing skills during our time here.

To the English teacher who told us that there is only so much you can learn from taking things at face value, thank you for teaching us to explore the other ⅞ of the story.  To the chemistry teacher who wanted to be a doctor until she realized her true calling was to help high schoolers understand the importance of hydrogen bonds, thank you for teaching us to trust our gut and to follow our passion wherever it may lead us. To the homeroom advisory teacher who allowed us to come running in at 7:33 each morning because she understood the difference between SHS time and real people time, thank you for teaching us that sometimes showing a little compassion is more important than following the rules to a T. To the history teacher who encouraged us to engage in historical figure rap battles for a test grade, thank you for teaching us that the amount of energy you bring to the room will be reflected back to you.  To the comparative politics teacher who would tell you about the time he was recruited by the CIA, but then he’d have to, well, you know the drill, thank you for teaching us to face politics with a level head and a willingness to listen to all sides of the story. This will become especially useful as we vote for the first time in the presidential election this year.  To the psychology teacher who taught us just as much about his three children Livy, Tyler, and Ella as he did about Jung, Maslow, and Freud, thank you for teaching us that there are some things in life that are more important than work, school, and grades.

Thank you Mr. Russo, Ms. Saint Pierre, Ms. Meara, Mr. Cosgrove, Mr. Frank, and Mr. McNeil for teaching us the lessons our textbooks could not, and thank you to all of those teachers at SHS who have done the same.  I would like you all to know on behalf of the class of 2016 that although we may have occasionally missed a class, failed a quiz, or even fallen asleep once or twice, we were listening and we did hear you.  Though we may someday forget the difference between sine and tangent, or the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism, we will never forget the more permanent and far more invaluable lessons that you have taught us over these past four years. I hope you can take pride in knowing that you have significantly impacted the lives of the young adults before you, and that we would not be the people we are today without you.

Graduates Listening #1The class of 2016 as a whole is pretty spectacular, but I would like to give a few more specific examples. We’ve had a lot of success in athletics.  Jameson Butafucco set the lacrosse record for most goals in a season and most career goals in Sandwich High School History.  William “Chin” Crowther, a southpaw pitcher, somehow managed to consistently find home plate through his mane of hair and lead the team to a record breaking post season. Our class started the SHS volleyball team with Tessa Wood and myself as inaugural members.  Bella Collentro will step up to the next level this fall when she plays division two soccer at Stonehill College.  We are also sending off many athletes to continue playing their sports at division three colleges as well.  Among these athletes are Anna Hurley, Joe Sullivan, Carly Whittle, and Kaitlyn Scott, all hard workers who are dedicated to their sport.

Our musical talent can be summed up with one name: Thatcher Drake.   Thatcher &He plays an inhuman number of different instruments and seems to win every competition he is entered in.  We have artists who create pieces that appear so real they may as well be photographs.  Hannah Paige, Jenny Broder, Megan Forester, and Maddy Esdale are frequently recognized for their incredible artwork.  For four years we have witnessed the acting talents of Andrew Sivco, Maeve Connolly, and John McLeod.  From Westside Story to Into the Woods, Andrew, Maeve, and John have shown that they are truly naturally gifted actors. 

Our class is intellectually gifted in numerous ways.  There are the kinesthetically, spatially, and musically intelligent students that I just mentioned, but there are many others who display their brain power in different ways.  We of course have our valedictorian, Liz Wegman.  Liz is by far the most dedicated student I have ever met.  She is inquisitive, hardworking, and if she doesn’t know the answer to something, you can bet she will not rest until she finds it.  There is Brennan Tickell, who can win an argument even when he is dead wrong.  He can find every hole and weak area in an idea and then mercilessly rip it to shreds.  Although Tick would be a great lawyer, he has shown an intense interest in flight and will be attending college to become a pilot.  Tommy Kelleher and Jeff Polidor are our tech whizzes.  Tommy knows the ins and outs of your computer better than any apple store employee and will not hesitate to let them know it.  Jeff is president of student council and is responsible for coordinating school events such as pep rallies.  These two join forces to run the sound and light booths and are keystones of the high school theater productions that take place here.  It is safe to say that without people like Tommy and Jeff, there would be no KTC.  Then there is probably the wisest girl I know, Helen Colwell.  Helen always knows the right thing to say and has become someone other students turn to when looking for advice in terms of both life and homework.  She displays a combination of logical and social intelligence that is exceedingly rare and will definitely benefit her as she pursues a psychology degree.

There is intelligence that cannot be measured with test scores or GPAs.  There is creativity and kindness, and a drive to succeed that just will not let you quit no matter how much it hurts or how badly you want to.  Whether it be in lacrosse, biology, or music, that drive and the unique ideas that you bring to the table will determine how far you go in life -not that perfect SAT score, or your class rank, or even the university you attend.  I am telling you now, none of that matters.  As I said, we have a pretty spectacular class, a class that is clearly both intelligent and talented.  You all have skills, ideas, and interests.  You all have dreams that are worth chasing.  I hope you can take solace in knowing that there is really nothing standing in your way, nothing that can stop you from achieving your dreams except for you. You get to decide how hard you work and where that takes you.  You get to decide your future.  I know you all will choose wisely.  Congratulations class of 2016!


Thanks to Sandwich community television, you can watch the graduation here: