Cheers echoed through the halls of the Howe Building as family and friends celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2015 during Perkins School for the Blind’s annual commencement ceremony on June 12.
“This is a day for celebration, to surround our graduates with love and support from family, from friends and from all of the staff here at Perkins,” said Board of Trustees Chair Corinne Grousbeck.
Twelve members of the graduating class donned blue caps and gowns and marched down the aisle to take their places on stage, where they listened to performances by the Secondary Program Chorus and the Chamber Singers, and heard words of advice from Commencement speaker Jerry Berrier.
“Be yourself, don’t try to be somebody else,” said Berrier, a program manager for iCanConnect at Perkins, who is blind. “Our disabilities do not detract one bit from our value as human beings. We each have a unique opportunity to make the world a better place.”
Senior class speaker Adam Roberge reflected on his Perkins experience and the connections he has forged with classmates and staff members. It was at Perkins that he learned what friendship means, he said.
“During our time together we have gotten to know each other and have worked together in classrooms, work placements and in the cottages,” he said. “We will always remember the good times we shared at Perkins.”
Superintendent Dorinda Rife read off the names of this year’s graduates, some of whom were joined on stage by former teachers and administrators from their hometowns. Parents and friends snapped photos from the audience as each student stood to receive diplomas or certificates of accomplishment.
The crowd also took a moment to acknowledge student Jason Lewis, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness. An empty chair on stage symbolized Lewis’s place among his fellow graduates.
Although their Perkins journey has come to a close, Rife urged each student to continue with their education.
“Learning continues throughout your life; it is something to look forward to,” she said. “I’m hoping you will try new things, that you will take classes, that you will read and listen to books. The more you try new things, the less scary they become, and you will become a better person for having tried.”
The newly minted graduates filed out of the auditorium to a final burst of applause, joining their loved ones for an afternoon of celebration. Halfway down the aisle, smiling broadly, graduate Sara Mornis tossed her cap into the air and took another step toward her future.