Perkins' Largest Graduating Class in a Quarter-century
Student Speaker Tells Classmates, “YOLO”
Dwight Hall came alive during Perkins' 2012 Graduation
Applause rattled the old wooden floors and high ceilings of Dwight Hall, as 24 students received diplomas or certificates from Perkins School for the Blind's Secondary School and Deafblind Programs on Friday, June 15, 2012. The simultaneous celebration of the largest graduating class since 1986 and the centennial of the towering Howe Building, which houses its august Dwight Hall, added to the pomp and circumstance.
Graduation keynotes Kim and Brian Charlson
Commencement speakers Kim and Brian Charlson, both of whom are blind, shared with the graduates their own down-to-earth, real-life stories of striving and succeeding in a sighted world.
“Goals are important,” Director of Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library Kim Charlson pointed out, “success takes planning.”
Charlson who works right on campus is already well-known to students. And her husband, Brian, directs the Computer Training Services at the Carroll Center for the Blind, in nearby Newton. The value of literacy and modern technology in becoming productive adults, involved in their communities and workplaces, was implicit in their examples. Both spoke of the irreplaceable element of partnership – with friends, mentors and family – to achieving those important goals.
Perkins staff applaud their students
Ashley delivers her graduation speech to fellow classmates and a packed Dwight Hall
As the Senior Class Speaker and recipient of the Marcy Scott Award for Leadership, Senior Class President Ashley Bernard delivered her speech, in which she urged her classmates to embrace new experiences, but stay in touch with those who mentored them at Perkins; and stay in contact with each other. Bernard sprinkled her talk with words coined by colleagues. She asked them to meet every challenge with a sense of adventure, remembering one of their special words, Yolo, which means, “You only live once.” An accomplished musician, composer and filmmaker, Bernard is set to continue her education at Bridgewater State University.
Baritone John Castillo of Westwood rendered "O del mio amato ben," by Stefano Donaudy, in Italian. In doing so, he showed just why he received the Betty Gayzagian Award, as an exceptional vocalist who plans to continue studying voice. A Deafblind Program senior, Katie, moved every heart in the hall with her a cappella version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” accomplishing her long-held dream to sing her favorite song in public. Her last note brought the entirety of Dwight Hall to its feet.
Katie singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
Kerryne Ohlson won three awards, including The Samuel P. Hayes Memorial Prize for Music and The Reginald Fitz Award, for her highest grade point average (gpa) in the largest graduating class from Perkins since the mid-'80s.
Kerryne Ohlson receives one of her three awards (left) and John Castillo sings 'O del mio amato ben' (right)
Watch and/or listen to Ashley's commencement speech