Diplomas freshly in hand, members of Austin Preparatory School’s class of 2014 were reminded their future contributions will make the world a better place, and to never be afraid to speak out.
“Your objective here at Austin Prep is public service. That just doesn’t mean serving in elective office,” said Raymond L. Flynn, former mayor of Boston and United States Ambassador to the Vatican. “It really means helping other people, whether it’s your daily job, or being a volunteer in helping making your community stronger.”
Flynn, the keynote speaker at the Reading school’s commencement on Sat., June 7, encouraged the graduates to embrace their opportunities to be active members of society.
“Public service also means being an informed citizen,” he said to the crowd of more than 1,000 graduates, faculty members, families and friends. “A political leader is only as good as the public who keeps them on their toes.”
Austin Prep Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D., of Andover, who is in his first year at the school, said the class of 2014 taught him what it means to be a member of the Austin Prep community. He greatly admires the graduates’ tolerance of others and their concern for the less fortunate, and encouraged them to continue along this path.
“Remember the people who struggle, the people who haven’t had the same opportunity, the same blessings,” he said. “Reach down and see if there is someone you can pull up … give them a hand, give them a chance, give them a start … that’s what it means to be an Austin Prep graduate.”
The graduates said they are grateful to their parents, teachers and administrators for helping them achieve this important milestone, and reflected on what they have learned during their time at Austin Prep.
“Don’t be afraid of making a mistake because it can make for a very interesting story,” said salutatorian Trevor W. Parece of Tewksbury.
Parece also said the class has many unique accomplishments and his classmates appreciate the teachers and coaches who accepted this uniqueness and guided them to where they are today.
“We are now at a point in our lives where we have to start relying on ourselves and we have to choose our own paths,” he said.
Valedictorian Grace M. Ferri of Saugus said the greatest lessons learned at Austin Prep came not from winning victories, but in learning how to handle disappointment and overcoming fear of failure.
“The people who never lost faith in us are the people who allowed us to trust what life may throw at us,” she said. “The people who listened to us are the people who made us realize we had a voice, and that voice could be heard in the silence of personal conviction, when no one was clapping.”
Ferri reminded us that as we spend time trying to prove ourselves, our internal validation doesn’t come from external awards.
“What we strive for is innate in us … and accessible only within us,” she said. “Surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you can’t see it in yourself.”
Nearly all 104 graduates are going on to institutions of higher learning, receiving acceptances at more than 550 colleges and universities.
The class of 2014 includes the following local students:
Allyson O. Braciska of Tewksbury will attend the College of the Holy Cross. She received the Student-Athlete Award.
Sean A. Derrah of Tewksbury is undecided in his college plans.
Nena M. Giandomenico of Tewksbury will attend Marist College. She received the Barbara Zarella Memorial Scholarship for Perfect Attendance.
Kristin L. Kinchla of Tewksbury will attend Roger Williams University.
Megan A. McKenna of Tewksbury will attend the College of the Holy Cross. She received the Medal for Biological Science and the President’s Education Award.Trevor W. Parece of Tewksbury will attend Northwestern University. He is the class salutatorian and received the Medal for Mathematics, and the President’s Education Award.