Superintendent Harper Congratulates the GHS Class of 2019!

gps class of 2019 banner

Greenfield High School sends off 81 Seniors in Class of 2019 

Superintendent Harper, Principal Patenaude, elected officials, and families and students gathered on Friday, May 31 to celebrate the graduation of 81 amazing seniors in the Class of 2019. Musical selections were provided by the Greenfield High School band & music department.



Good Evening. To our elected officials, parents, teachers, administrators, students, and the graduating class of 2019, congratulations. I’d like to begin by saying, “Go Green Wave!”

We often cheer each other on this way - on the sports field, on the bleachers, even on social media. As a school, as a community, and as a graduating class, we share great Green Wave Pride. On the occasion of the Greenfield High School’s graduation of the Class of 2019, I ask you to reflect on what it really means to be a part of the Green Wave.

Langston Hughes, the great American poet, wrote in his poem, “Long Trip”:

The sea is a wilderness of waves,

A desert of water. We dip and dive, Rise and roll,

Hide and are hidden On the sea.

Day, night, Night, day,

The sea is a desert of waves,

A wilderness of water.

This graduating class has already made waves, in the classroom and on the field, in the community, and in their future colleges and workplaces. The Greenfield High School graduating class of 2019 has not been afraid to inspire, to challenge, and to succeed. They have helped one another up, and they have stuck together.

The Massachusetts writer and humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw, writing under the pen name of Josh Billings, said, “Waves are inspiring not because they rise and fall, but because each time they fall, they never fail to rise again.”

Class of 2019, we know what each of you is capable of. As one wave, we know you are strong and deep, but as an ocean, you are mighty and powerful. Individually you may be tranquil or you may be stormy, but together, you are immeasurable. Leonardo da Vinci said, “A wave is never found alone, but is mingled with the other waves.” This is especially true for all of you. So although you are leaving Greenfield High School, forever surround yourselves with your fellow Waves.

We stand before you on the occasion of your graduation, so incredibly proud of your accomplishments. I came to Greenfield as Superintendent in 2014, the same year many of you entered the halls of the old GHS as 8th graders. And for the past five years, we’ve seen you grow, and excel. You are part of the old, and part of the new. We are proud of who you are and who you’ll become.

We also know it hasn’t always been easy. You are strong, not because what you’ve earned has come easily to you, but because you’ve fought hard for your accomplishments, and learned your own limitations by pushing yourselves to do better and be more.

If anyone here needed proof of this class’ achievements, look no farther than this year’s college acceptances.

Class of 2019 graduates from Greenfield High School have been accepted into such distinguished institutions of higher learning as Amherst College, Babson College, Brandeis University, Brown College, Clark University, Dartmouth College, Greenfield Community College, Hamilton College, Holyoke Community College, Ithaca College, Keene State University, Mt. Holyoke College, Syracuse University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New England, University of Rochester, University of Vermont, Westfield State College, Wheaton College, Worcester State University, Williams College, and many more.

Our graduating seniors have realized their potential. The acclaimed Vietnamese poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the ocean” In your time at GHS, you earned your place as the Wave. Now, you have an opportunity to learn that you are the ocean.

For some of you, your journey and the next steps before you may brings change and even some anxiety. You might recognize this feeling, like the jitters before a big game or waiting for your first choice college acceptance letter. But as the modern author Vikrmn said, we hope you have learned that “Waves are not as dangerous as fear of waves.” So whether you are going for your ,first big job interview or setting foot on college campus for the first time -- you’ve got this.

Some of you may be feeling a bit nostalgic thinking about GHS, and your younger days (because let’s face it, we’re pretty awesome here.) But if your time with the Green Wave was amazing, keep riding that wave, and trust me, you’ll find more. Because as John Wanamaker, former U.S. Postmaster General and pioneer of marketing, said, “You can never ride on the wave that came in and went out yesterday.” So as you head into what’s next, don’t let regret keep you from riding the next big wave that may just be your best yet.

Another thing we know about this class is that you have, quite literally, made waves. The New York Times’ best-selling author Christina Dodd wrote, “Only those who row the boat make waves.” Whether taking us to Western Mass Championships at the Curry Hicks Cage at UMass and uniting our whole town while doing it, winning accolades for moving poetry capturing the natural beauty of our own town and Green River, serving own community or traveling to another country, uplifting others with music or art, seeing a need and filling it, or just being excellent students and good people, you have each made waves in your own way. When you leave here, keep rowing the boat towards your destination.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson said, “The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.” For Jefferson and the founding fathers, those waves changed the world, shaping the declaration of independence and the government of the United States and ultimately spread around the globe. So as you leave here, keep making waves.

Some among you are more cautious, and prefer to thoroughly chart out your course before taking action. This is a good trait, and a sign of the maturity and responsibility you carry, thanks to your families and your friends and the teachers that have helped you. But all the planning in the world cannot map out everything that lies ahead. Our job instead has been to prepare you as best as possible for what may come, and to assure you of those that are by your side when you need it most. For as Dr. Jon Kabbat-Zinn once said, “You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

And finally, this is the last time my advice will ring in your ears (unless you follow me on twitter, or come back to teach in our schools, as we would love for you to do.) So since it’s the last advice I’ll give you, I encourage you, as the great mystic Rumi once did, to “Listen to the sound of waves within you.”

To the graduating class of 2019, congratulations on all that you have achieved. I say to you one last time, Go Green Wave.