Parents, extended families, and friends gathered in the Everett Memorial Stadium to watch 368 seniors from Everett High School’s Class of 2012 receive their diplomas on Thursday evening, June 14.
Superintendent Frederick F. Foresteire announced that out of the 368 students who were graduating, eighty-two per cent of those students were going on to study at a college or university. “This is a wonderful statistic for me to be able to announce at graduation, especially as a Superintendent from an inner-city like Everett, considering how difficult it is to secure funding for a quality public school education in this tough economic climate.”
Superintendent Frederick F. Foresteire welcomed guests that included state Senator Sal DiDomenico and thanked his Assistant Superintendents and administrative staff for their support in the past school year. He also thanked the nine members of the School Committee for their hard work to provide the best educational system possible.
In his address, Superintendent Foresteire reported to the audience that Everett High School had received its renewal of accreditation for the next ten years. Referring to the complicated three year process done by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, he said that this year the evaluation was done for the first time in the new High School and noted “the new facilities made quite a difference.”
The Superintendent also thanked Everett High School Principal Louis Baldi, Vice-Principal Nicholas Venezia, and Classmaster Jennifer Yebba, as well as participating teachers and students, for their hard work in bringing the high school’s accreditation process to a successful conclusion.
After a moment of silence held in memory of three school personnel who had passed away, Howard Rutstein, a retired teacher, Peter Gonnella, a High School Physical Education teacher, and Marie Steward, a Keverian School crossing guard, the Superintendent reminded the graduating seniors about their “Everett Edge”.
“You don’t expect life to come without obstacles” the Superintendent said, adding that Everett students are an edge ahead of students from wealthier suburbs “who’ve always had everything made easy for them.”
Superintendent Foresteire cited two people who grew up in Everett who used the “Everett Edge” in their lives. The first person was Mr. Joseph Cataldo, who fought in World War II as a Private, First Class and was with the invading Allied forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was awarded a purple heart and, 60 years after the war’s end, France’s highest honor, the Legion d’Honneur, for his remarkable heroism in that war.
Asking his audience to imagine what was in Joe Cataldo’s mind after he exited the safety of his boat, waded ashore on Omaha Beach under heavy fire, and saw the sands littered with dead GIs, the Superintendent said “For Private Cataldo on June 6, 1944….D-Day…failure was not an option!”
The second person mentioned was Mr. Joseph O’Donnell, a successful entrepreneur whose first-born son died tragically at age twelve from cystic fibrosis. Grieving, he and his wife set up the Joey Fund named in their son’s honor, and raised over $100 million to search for a cure to this disease affecting more than 30,000 children and young people in this country.
Currently Mr. O’Donnell has raised more than $250 million, part of which enabled a team of scientists to discover a drug that has greatly improved the quality of life for children suffering from cystic fibrosis. Research efforts aimed at defeating a much broader mutation of this disease that would help thousands more children are in Phase Two, and Mr. O’Donnell has just launched a $75 million campaign for this final push.
The Superintendent asked his audience to imagine what was in Mr. O’Donnell’s mind at his fund raisers as he met hundreds of families with children destined to die as his son had. Praising Mr. O’Donnell’s years of unwavering effort to raise millions of dollars in a search for a cure to cystic fibrosis, and coming so close to that goal now, Superintendent Foresteire said “Today, for Joe O’Donnell, failure is not an option!”
“Having the Everett Edge isn’t so much about always winning and money as it is about never, ever giving up….and achieving your goals” the Superintendent emphasized.
Five outstanding students at the top of their class were announced by the Superintendent: Tina Bui was listed as first in her class with a grade point average (GPA) of 4.5, and will attend Boston College to study Nursing. Gabriela Portillo, with a GPA of 4.49, achieved second standing and will attend Salem State to study Nursing.
Third in his class was Kenneth Nanyumba, with a GPA of 4.47. He has been accepted at Harvard University and plans to major in Biology. Leslie Perlera Gonzales was fourth in her class with a GPA of 4.38, and will go to Boston College in the fall. Fifth in his class with a GPA of 4.36 was Devan Muse, who will study Graphic Design at UMASS Lowell.
Fifteen students from Everett High School’s Class of 2012 selected to serve in the military after graduation. The Superintendent asked the audience to join with him in expressing gratitude for their choices.
In closing, Superintendent Foresteire asked those graduating to take time to remember parents and extended families for their generous and consistent support. “Remember where you came from with love and pride” the Superintendent said, adding “Trust your “Everett Edge” to get you through life.”