Photo: Class President Richard “Trey” Butler speaking at Belmont High School’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 6. Behind Butler is (left) Belmont High Principal Dan Richards and Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.
When Richard “Trey” Butler was in elementary school, his father made a request: spend half of recess meeting classmates he didn’t know.
An athletic kid who would rather play wallball or be in a pickup game of football – he became Belmont’s all-time career points leader in lacrosse – Butler said he would “appease” his dad and talk to the other students at recess.
Whether it was the classmate who knew how to whittle wood or foster care an ant farm or traded rubber band bracelets – which Butler showed the field house he was wearing – it was there he began to “build connections with classmates that I may not have otherwise made,” said Butler, telling his story to a packed Wenner Field House that included 302 of those classmates he first met nearly a decade ago and who he was graduating from Belmont High School on Sunday, June 5.
And through their 12 and sometimes 13 years together, “it was our ability to see past our own interests and open ourselves and respect the wide variety of passion” in each graduate, said Butler at the afternoon commencement.
Beach balls were bouncing around the field house – could this be the start of a new “tradition”? – as the ceremony moved along smartly finishing in a relatively quick 90 minutes, all the more remarkable since the class graduated 303 students, a high-water mark not seen for decades.
Belmont High Principal Dan Richards said curiosity, character and community were the attributes found in the Class of 2016.
“We hope that your education at Belmont High School will enhance your lives and provides the blueprint for the work that lies ahead for we know that you have the heart and power to accomplish great things,” he said.
Carly Tymm, who with Emma Pierce-Hoffman, is a recipient of the School Committee’s Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship Award, focused on her class’ commitment to camaraderie, demonstrated at sporting events where the level of participation did not reflect that likelihood of winning the event or remembering to come back from Starbucks with a coffee because someone was having “a rough day.”
“As one teacher told me ‘The leadership and camaraderie of our class have truly left a positive legacy on Belmont High School.'”
Pierce-Hoffman recalled the difficulty moving from Pennslyvania to Massachusetts, and how a second move in the state to Belmont made her “so much more open to the change,” allowing herself to explore new experiences such as theater and to change as a person.
“Whatever the future holds for us, whether it’s college, work, moving to a new place, it will be different and we will be different people after experiencing it. And that’s OK. It’s not just OK, it’s awesome,” she said.
When members of the Class of 2016 meet in the future, “we’ll stll have common ground as Belmont High School graduates. We’ll share the memories of crowded cafeteria tables, walking around the Pond …”
Graduation is also “an amazing opportunity to leave other things behind, as memories and make way for new experiences. Change and be scary … but also sometimes the best thing in the world,” said Pierce-Hoffman.
“So welcome, Class of 2016, to life beyond Belmont High. Let the new adventures begin.”