Mt. Hope graduates told to stay young and ‘Soar’!

By Kristen Ray
Posted 6/11/19

Dr. Deborah DiBiase stood on the stage, looking out at a sea of purple and white. Members of the Mt. Hope High School Class of 2019 were anxiously awaiting their diplomas, a sure milestone toward …

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Mt. Hope graduates told to stay young and ‘Soar’!

Posted

Dr. Deborah DiBiase stood on the stage, looking out at a sea of purple and white. Members of the Mt. Hope High School Class of 2019 were anxiously awaiting their diplomas, a sure milestone toward adulthood. Yet before they walked across the stage and out the back door; before they headed outside to make their own mark on the world, the principal wanted those 215 graduating seniors to remember one thing from commencement.

“I imagine that many of you have been told that it’s time to grow up. Well, my message to you is — don’t. Don’t ever grow up,” she said.

It was a message that echoed the one Senior Class President Ryder Ferris had delivered just moments before. Though their elementary school days may be over, he encouraged his fellow classmates to maintain a healthy dose of kid-like mentality as they move forward, keeping a little bit of fun and adventure in whatever they choose to do.

“Dr. Seuss said, ‘Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them,’ and I couldn’t agree more,” he said.

In addition to maintaining that wistful playfulness, Dr. DiBiase also felt as if there were plenty of other timeless lessons hidden in those classic Disney films — lessons of kindness and acceptance, honesty and simplicity, loyalty and positivity.

Believing in those messages, however, can sometimes be easier said than done. As this year’s Gardner/Burke Award winner, Bethany Borgia, illustrated through her reading of the poem, “The Sunshine Kid,” even the brightest of stars can darken without the help and support of others along the way. In other cases, though, people can get in their own way, a fact that Comeback Kid Isaiah Ferro learned the hard way.

“I would make myself think, ‘You’re dumb; why ask for help if you’re still going to fail?’ ” he confessed.

With encouragement from his family, friends and faculty members, though, Isaiah eventually discovered how to have more faith in his abilities. Yet he was not the only one who had dealt with a shaken confidence during her time at Mt. Hope; Laura Thurber, too, admitted to suffering from anxiety after learning she would be delivering the salutation address. By recognizing her own blessings and appreciating the opportunities available to her, though, she was, in that moment, capable of overcoming her major fear: public speaking.

“I want to use this time to ensure that all of us will cherish all the moments we are given, no matter how daunting they seem,” she said.

Difficult as that may be, though, Valedictorian Nick Jaunario has found that through dedication and determination, the end results are often sweeter. After spending countless hours tending to his own garden and working out on the farm, he has finally seen the fruits of his hard labor pay off.

“We all may have had to sift through a lot of dirt to get here, but I hope that … wherever we may be, we will continue to grow and contribute something to the world ahead of us,” he said.

No matter where they go, though — whether it is to college or trade school, the armed services or abroad — Dr. DiBiase had no doubt that this year’s group of students will go on to make a difference in the world.

“Don’t just fly. Soar,” she said.  “I love you, congratulations.”

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.