The Class of 2019 officially graduated from Malden High on June 2nd. The ceremony was held at MacDonald Stadium and consisted of speeches by Mayor Gary Christenson, State Representative David Ultrino, Superintendent John Oteri, and Principal Chris Mastrangelo. The graduating seniors that also spoke were Class President Mattheus Farias, Orator Kayla Dos Rios Sousa, Salutatorian Birukti Tsige, and Valedictorian Felix Li. The band and chorus performed as well.
Before the ceremony began, attendees filed into the bleachers while the seniors gathered in the back. Several fundraisers had been organized; the Class of 2020 sold balloons, the Class of 2021 sold water, and the Class of 2022 sold slush. Fundraisers during graduation are successful most of the time, according to Class of 2020 President Jacky Luong, who states that selling slush during the graduation of 2017 was “a good start” in raising money for the class and the fundraisers ever since has been just as rewarding.
This year was also the first year in which seniors were allowed to decorate their caps. Their caps ranged from slogans to logos. Many of them stated which college they would be attending, such as graduating senior Joanne Ho’s cap, which is UMASS Amherst. She says that being able to decorate the caps after many years of strict policies against it was simply “lit.”
At around 1:50, the drummers for the Malden High Band played while marching around the track. The rest of the band started to play, cueing the seniors. Teachers and other administrators walked first. Then, the seniors walked onto the track with Class Advisor Rebecca Corcoran leading them. The audience cheered as they saw their friends and family walking onto the field.
Next, the seniors settled into their seats. Principal Mastrangelo opened the ceremony by congratulating the students for their achievement. He handed the floor over to Mayor Christenson, who thanked the class for allowing him to speak. He quoted Gandhi and spoke about the many times the class made a change throughout high school. He added how the class made sure to be politically involved at both a national and local level, such as the Walk Out and the Youth Civics Council’s campaign to lower the voting age in Malden. He ended the speech by encouraging the class to continue making a difference and “be the change.” State Rep. Ultrino and Superintendent Oteri also spoke about the increase of awareness and action the Class of 2019 displayed in politics and world events.
After the first series of speeches, the band played. Then, the second series of speeches began, starting with Farias. Next, Sousa took the stage. She gave an emotional speech, especially when she referred to those who helped her throughout high school.
Then, Tsige spoke. She opened her speech talking about her father, the main attribute to her success. She emphasized the importance of family and the people around them. She also mentioned several classmates, hoping to see them in high places in the future and know that she had the privilege of attending Malden High with them.
Tsige wrote her speech by brainstorming ideas of what was important to her and her class. She states that she continued to re-read and edit the speech “until hours before [the] stage.” The experience of speaking at graduation was nerve-wracking at first, but upon seeing her classmates, friends, and teachers, she realized she “did not have any reason to be nervous.” She focused on her parents for a good portion of the speech as a homage for “everything they have suffered and shined through.” However, when Tsige wrote her speech, she realized that a lot of her experiences are relatable to many of her classmates. This connected the class and her parents in the speech, making it “really special” to Tsige.
Li was the last student to speak. He thanked those in attendance, moving on to give shout outs to various clubs and sports for their success. He also mentioned several teachers for the connections he made with them along the way. Like Tsige, Li spoke about his family, specifically his mother, for helping him perform to the best to his ability.
Li was told on Senior Awards Night that he needed to make a speech for graduation. He started to watch various speeches on YouTube to get a “general idea” of what he should cover at graduation. After spending time reflecting on the past four years, he knew he had to give a shout out to the achievements of the class and the influence of his family and friends. Li says that he was able to give the speech because of the support of the high school and the people around him, so he felt compelled to “pay [his] respects to them.” He also collaborated with Tsige a couple of times when writing his speech.
He says he was not extremely nervous about giving the speech, but when the time came, he got “more and more anxious.” However, when reading the first time, all of the nervousness “melted away” and enjoyed every moment of it. Li adds that it was “amazing” to stand on the stage and see the entire class. “It is a sight [he’ll] forget,” Li says. It was “inspiring and beautiful” to see the class united together to celebrate their successes and achievements.
After Li, the chorus sang “For Good” from the musical Wicked. Mastrangelo gave the closing remarks to the class, saying that they were “resilient, compassionate, socially conscious, and brilliant.” Despite the setbacks the class faced, such as losing senior privileges, changing prom venues last minute, taking buses to prom, and having three different principals, they were able to excel during their time. He added that the top 81 students had a GPA of 4.0 or higher, and more than 200 had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. He concluded his speech wishing that the class does not forget Malden High as they take their place. They handed out diplomas shortly after.
The ceremony left many graduates reflecting on their time at Malden High. Li’s experience at Malden High was “a unique one,” filled with “challenges, adventures, and tons of learning and growing.” He is glad to spend his four years of high school at Malden High, adding that the school taught him about himself, and the support network of classmates, teachers, and other faculty is “unmatched.”
Tsige says that she does not think she could have had a better experience at the school. While there were numerous “late nights studying and hours of classes,” Malden High allowed her to “forge [her] own path,” as it gave her opportunities for success for students who “are willing to take them.”