It was a day – and a class – that will be remembered for years to come.
On Friday, Perkins School for the Blind celebrated its largest graduating class in recent memory, as 25 students in the Secondary and Deafblind programs proudly donned their caps and gowns and processed down the aisle of a packed Dwight Hall.
“You are a diverse and beautiful class,” said Superintendent Ed Bosso. “We’re all very proud of each of you and your accomplishments, both big and small.”
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo joined the Class of 2017 on stage to deliver the Commencement Address, which he called one of the “greatest moments” of his career. In his remarks, he urged the graduates to put their Perkins diplomas to good use, whether in public service, business or education.
“You have unique backgrounds, perspectives and skill sets,” he said. “And because of that, you have an incredible opportunity to shape the future.”
The audience of family, friends and caregivers enjoyed several performances by the Perkins Secondary Chorus, and heard from Board of Trustees Chair Corinne Basler Grousbeck, whose son Campbell graduated from Perkins three years ago.
“I know how much work and worry goes into preparing our children for this day,” Grousbeck said. “So please, take the time to reflect not only on your child’s accomplishments but yours as well.”
Reading from her braille notetaker, Senior Class Speaker Bronwen Tedesco shared a list of her fondest Perkins memories and a few of the lessons she picked up during her years at the school.
“No matter what, taking initiative is key,” she told her classmates. “If you don’t, nothing will happen. It’s up to you to get the ball rolling in your life.”
This fall, Tedesco will be attending Lesley University in Cambridge, with the goal of becoming a middle school English teacher.
“There will be challenges,” she acknowledged, as the crowd applauded, “but I know this is what I want to do and I will push through it. I will not give up – nobody should.”
As Bosso read aloud the names of the 25 graduates, Grousbeck and DeLeo presented them with diplomas or certificates of achievement. Several students also received diplomas from special education directors from their hometown school districts, who traveled to Perkins for the event.
Finally, with diplomas in hand, the Class of 2017 exited Dwight Hall for the last time, marching past the community of family, friends and educators who have been their biggest supporters.
Even after graduation, that community will still exist, said Grousbeck.
“You’re not in this alone,” she said. “We believe in you. Be strong, be brave, be competent and show [the world] what you’ve got.”