Walpole Community Bids Adieu to 2013 Graduates


The members of the Class of 2013 throw their caps in the air in celebration after graduating.

Hannah McLaughlin

The members of the Class of 2013 throw their caps in the air in celebration after graduating.
The members of the Class of 2013 throw their caps in the air in celebration after graduating.

Hundreds of spectators chattered noisily in the bleachers, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the afternoon’s 271 guests of honor. The Walpole High School Concert Band ran through several measures in a last-ditch effort to perfect the music that would be performed throughout the ceremonies. Despite sporadic gusts of powerful wind, the hot sun shone bright in a cloudless, baby blue sky.

Meanwhile—less than 100 yards away—a palpable atmosphere of excitement infused with sorrow emanated from a sea of white-and-blue-clad high school seniors. While some utilized this time to say their final goodbyes to fellow classmates, others were rendered speechless by the inconceivable truth that from this day forward, Walpole High School would be but a fond memory—a distant place of the past where friends were made, laughs shared, tears shed. Suddenly, a signal was given, and the students fell into formation. The band began its rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and members of the senior class prepared themselves to enter Turco Field for the last time as Walpole students. On June 2, 2013, Walpole High School bid adieu to a truly remarkable and inspiring group of young leaders: the graduating class of 2013.

For Walpole High School’s 139th graduating class, the past four years have marked an exciting and tumultuous period of significant change. As sophomores, these students watched former Vice Principal Mr. Stephen Imbusch acclimate to his new role as WHS Principal after being chosen to replace Mr. Alan Bernstein in 2010. The students coped with a myriad of school wide reforms, such as drastic changes to the bell schedule, the establishment of Profesional Learning Communities (PLC), new attendance policies, and the abolition of class rank. They also tolerated the introduction of advisories as well as the subsequent termination of the advisory program. Similarly, they cooperated when classroom normalcy was disrupted by the short-lived removal and eventual reinstatement of homerooms. A resilient bunch, the class of 2013 was even capable of enduring arguably the most devastating events that has ever transpired at Walpole High School: the elimination of the cafeteria’s infamous “buff-chick” and fresh-baked cookies after a recent health requirement deemed the delicacies unfit for the new, low-calorie lunch menu.

Extremely talented, determined, and passionate, the class of 2013 achieved a great deal in the brief years they attended Walpole High School. A host of stellar student athletes from the senior class contributed to the massive success of several Walpole sports teams, such as the Boy’s Varsity Football team, the Girl’s Varsity Lacrosse team, and the Boy’s Varsity Baseball team. Senior musicians proposed the idea for and eventually hosted several successful “Coffee House” shows in which students were provided an outlet for self-expression and an opportunity to showcase their abilities.

This year, graduation exercises started promptly at 1:00 p.m. Upon entering the field, the seniors were met with a warm, welcoming applause—not to mention the occasional blow horn bleats and the shouts of embarrassing well wishes from individual family members. Once everyone reached their seats, the crowd was asked to rise for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, which was performed by Mr. Michael Falker’s Concert Band. Immediately after, Senior Class President Michele Monahan addressed the crowd. Welcoming everyone to Walpole high school, Michele extended her appreciation to those who came to support the graduates on their special day. Monahan presented the class gift—a generous donation to be used to benefit extracurricular activities. Junior Class President Remy Love accepted the gift on behalf of the junior class, and she wished the seniors good luck in their personal endeavors in the years to come.

The customary speeches from the class Salutatorian and Valedictorian came next. 2013 Salutatorian Jungbin Lim spoke eloquently about the challenges he had to surmount as a result of moving to an entirely new country as a young boy, as well as his personal experiences at Walpole High School. Regarding Walpole High School’s lasting effect on his life, Lim said, “After I came to Walpole, things changed. What I got to appreciate very quickly was that our school is full of opportunities. This is a place where if you have a dream, you can make it happen.” He finished by reassuring his peers that, despite the innumerable troubles one may encounter in the future, “we need not worry, for we have already been tremendously lucky to have studied in a place like Walpole High, and what’s more is that we will have a home called WHS that we can always come back to for support.”

After the audience gave Jungbin a rousing applause, Valedictorian Vandana Apte approached the podium. Focusing primarily on personal anecdotes and her determination to achieve academically, Vandana spoke of the vague term “success.” She said, “After these years at high school, I have realized that true success is striking a balance in your life between the many things that you value and following your own path to happiness.” Alluding to the popular teenage mantra YOLO—an acronym for the phrase “you only live once”— Apte reinforced her belief that success lacks a rigid definition. Reflecting on her own life, she added, “Strong academic performance is always a positive, but one must also keep in mind that life is a balance between caution and confidence, between the known and the unknown, between the rational and the crazy, between discipline and humor.”

Once the speeches were finished, Principal Stephen Imbusch presented awards and scholarships to countless deserving students. The awards, which range from artistic achievement to excellent effort in foreign language classes, were distributed to their respective recipients. During this time, hundreds of students were recognized for their achievements in all academic areas.  Of the graduating seniors, School Committee Chairperson Mrs. Nancy Gallivan later said, “It was a pleasure to share in the WHS graduation for the class of 2013.  They have distinguished themselves in many ways, as students, citizens, artists, musicians, athletes, filmmakers, engineers and thoughtful human beings.  I look forward to hearing about their future accomplishments.”

Finally, Principal Imbush called Superintendent Lincoln Lynch and Chairperson Nancy Gallivan to the front to aid with the distribution of diplomas. One by one, students were called to receive their diplomas. Once the 271st certificate had been awarded, Monahan rose from her seat and stood before her peers. Not straying from tradition, Monahan led the class of 2013 in the turning of the tassels, signifying the successful completion of a high school education. The last words of Mr. Imbusch’s presentation of the Walpole High School Graduates of 2013 were drown out by a roar of exultant shouts from the graduates and cheers from the families and friends seated in the bleachers. White and blue caps were launched high into the air, and spectators flooded into the field in search of their graduates.

In theory, June 2, 2013 was not a perfect day. The scorching heat and bright sun left families sun burnt. Violent gusts of wind sent graduates chasing after runaway caps, and it also managed to tear the top of the wooden ‘2’ of the ‘2013’ backdrop behind the graduates. Twice, a beach ball and an inflatable dolphin—brought by a senior as a last minute act of rebellion, no doubt— had to be confiscated during the ceremony. However, these insignificant issues did little to quell the excitement of graduation day. Reflecting on the day’s events, 2013 graduate Amber Walsh said, “Seeing all of the students, faculty, and families at graduation brought on a powerful feeling of unity and support. Although we may never be together as a whole class again, I know that I am truly blessed to have grown up at Walpole High School among such encouraging and supportive people.” When asked about any advice she wishes to inculcate in the minds of younger high school students, Walsh added, “I would urge all of the underclassmen to make the most of their time left at WHS. Time flies and you will truly miss the place whether you believe me or not.”