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Easthampton High grads celebrate the power of compassion and gratitude

  • Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • left, Stephanie Martinez,17, and Angela Nardi,18 both of Easthampton, sign year books while waiting with fellow class mates for the start of the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. . —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hailey Patenaude, 18, of Easthampton, signs a year book while she waits with her class mates for the start of the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. . —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Easthampton High School graduates during the processional at their graduation Saturday night at the high school. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Easthampton High School graduates during the processional at their graduation Saturday night at the high school. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Easthampton High School graduates at their graduation Saturday night at the high school. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Eamonn Graeme 18, of Easthampton, looks through his year book while he waits with fellow class mates for the start of the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. . —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Teacher Molly Jacobson, left. gives Teresa Perez a fist bump after Perez had received her diploma at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hannah Miller wipes a tear at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Molly Jacobson, a teacher, gives Veronica Hing a high five after Hing had received her diploma at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Chase Ouellette listens as guest speaker and former principal, Vito Perrone speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Oliva Stauder listens as guest speaker and former principal, Vito Perrone speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Guest speaker and former principal, Vito Perrone speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Andie Hall listens as guest speaker and former principal, Vito Perrone speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Stephanie Martinez,17,walks with fellow class mates during the processional at their graduation Saturday night at the high school. at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Diamond Smith, class president, speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Logan Hunt listens as guest speaker and former principal, Vito Perrone speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Seniors look on during the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kevin Burke, principal, speaks at the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Seniors during the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Seniors during the Easthampton High School graduation Saturday night. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS



@NyssaKruse
Saturday, June 03, 2017

EASTHAMPTON — Preparing for her commencement speech as salutatorian of Easthampton High School’s class of 2017, Angela Nardi created a Google document where her classmates could leave anonymous shout-outs to one another.

Though Nardi said she worked her “butt off” to earn her high school achievements, she added, “so did everyone else.” And the list of qualities and accomplishments reported on the document ran well beyond academic prowess.

Ella Smith, according to one classmate who posted on the document, was noted for constantly bringing a positive attitude to school.

“Four years have gone by,” Nardi said, quoting the document, “and I have never seen her without a smile on her face.”

Other students were recognized for helping friends when they were injured and making jokes to brighten class — even if teachers didn’t always appreciate it.

One student wanted to thank Samuel Flaherty and his family for taking them in when they were at their worst five years ago. Another thanked all the friends who came to their mother’s funeral.

“It’s likely people will forget this speech,” Nardi said. “But if you remember anything, remember the moments. Remember the way people made you feel.”

The message of the importance of compassion ran throughout speeches at Easthampton High School’s commencement Saturday night outside the newly remodeled school.

Closing out a year that saw the school roiled with allegations of racism and abusive behavior, students and administrators alike focused on the positives. And they called on graduates to think of how they can positively affect others moving forward in their lives.

Principal Kevin Burke said graduates should remember, “We are more alike than unlike.”

Commencement speaker and former principal Vito Perrone told the story of when a football coach in high school showed him “intense compassion” and called him out for making poor choices.

Perrone said the coach cared about him enough to offer him the option to join the team, showing him an alternative path that eventually led to a college and professional football career.

Perrone then told the story of teaching in a prison for 10 years and seeing the same man come in and out, as he dealt with an addiction to drugs and lived a life filled with crime. The man eventually graduated, and Perrone later received a letter from the man, who said he had earned an associate’s degree and was on his way to a university.

The man singled Perrone out as important to his change, and Perrone said this was because he didn’t judge the man for being a felon.

“No matter the person, no matter the situation, I know I have the power to touch them,” Perrone said. “Let people feel your positivity, your compassion and, most importantly, your love.”