Caps, Gowns and Beach Balls: Belmont High Class of ’19 Graduates 305

Photo: Thumbs up on graduation, 2019.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, June 2, the ranks of Belmont High School alumni grew by 305 when the Class of 2019 were proclaimed graduates of their new alma mater by Superintendent John Phelan.

In a packed and plenty warm Wenner Field House filled with family and friends wielding phones and cameras to capture the moment, the scarlet-robed graduate received their diplomas amidst cheers, speeches, motor boards thrown high in the air along with numerous beach balls that gave the ceremony the feel of a day in the Fenway Park bleachers.

Interim Belmont High School Principal Thomas Brow

The program began with Interim Belmont High Principal Thomas Brow recalling an incident with a small tree and an unnamed mischievous student when he was an assistant principal at the Chenery Middle School where he first met the class of ’19. In resolving the act of preteen vandalism in a quiet and private manner, Brow hoped the graduates will learn that “as you go on your life’s journey, you will have conflicts and challenges. The moral is it’s not the conflict that’s importanty, it’s how you handle it.”

“Please take that message on with you as you do great things with your life,” he said.

Brendon Hill, 2019 Belmont High School Class President.

The first of three student speakers, Class President and presenter of each graduate Brandon Hill celebrated achievements and events in the class’ shared history.

“There were a lot of memorable events the first day of freshman year. Showing up 20 minutes late to your Spanish class, and then claiming tp\o your teacher you thought you had a free.”

“Later on in life. When you think back to high school, and all the friends and memories that you created. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile, because you’re a part of something special,” Hill said.

Vassilios Kaxiras, recipient of the School Committee Award for
Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship

Vassilios Kaxiras, recipient of the School Committee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship, the first of two academic honorees,

Speaking about “my knowledge of the people around me widened … every day I came to school. All 305 of us have was wildly different backgrounds as personalities,” Kaxiras said. “As a result, I’ve met countless people who shattered my stereotypes of countries I know visited. And I found a lot of interesting things I didn’t know anything about before. So just keep up. Perhaps because of this diversity, I’ve also found to be incredibly welcoming,” he said.

“Sometimes the best way to find your place in an unfamiliar world is to jump right in.”

Lara Zeng, recipient of the School Committee Award for
Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship.

The second academic speaker, Lara Zeng, recipient of the School Committee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship, reflected on the now and the future to come.

“I’ve heard it said that when adults ask us what we want to be when we grow up, it’s because they themselves don’t know what the future holds. And they’re looking for advice and guidance from us because they’re just as lost as we are. This side of it might be scary. It’s a testament to how our lives are never set in stone,” Zeng said.

“But I think it’s empowering to remember that we will always have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We can always grow into whoever we want to be. We know who you are right now; students, athletes, artists, musicians, siblings, friends. Like the adults, we don’t have all the answers. We don’t know who we’ll be in the future. But I hope we never stopped learning.”

“Our high school experience has prepared us for whatever lies ahead. I am so honored to have grown up with you all and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next,” she said.

After the speeches, for an hour each now former student attending the ceremony strode up to the podium, shook Phelan’s and a School Committee member’s hand, received their diploma from Brown before walking towards a new part of their lives.

And then hats were thrown in the air (along with four beach balls) when Phelan proclaimed they had satisfied their requirements to graduate before heading out of the field house and into the bright sunshine of a Sunday afternoon.