As I relaxed on my La-Z-Boy Saturday evening following our 2023 Westport High School's Commencement exercises , I could not help but feel optimistic about the future of our Westport Community …
As I relaxed on my La-Z-Boy Saturday evening following our 2023 Westport High School's Commencement exercises, I could not help but feel optimistic about the future of our Westport Community Schools and the students herein. At the ceremony on June 3, our students received their hard-earned and well-deserved diplomas, and our leaders of the Class of 2023 gave speeches that reflected what makes this graduating class so unique. The students of the Class of 2023 at Westport are erudite, resilient, and kind. And while I had the privilege of seeing this in full display at our many school events this past year, the fact remains that this is a positive reflection of their quality of character as both academicians and individuals.
However, their journey through our Westport Community Schools cannot be celebrated without recognizing that their journey started thirteen years earlier. Commencement Day belongs not only to the students and families of the graduates but to the whole school community. In fact, I received the following narrative from one of our many outstanding instructors who attended graduation:
Not only were the Valedictorian and Salutatorian my former Kindergarten students, but I also saw two of my ELL students graduate!! Yippee!!
This clearly speaks to the emotional investment our staff makes in every student who attends our schools and that their care and concern do not end when the student is promoted from one grade or school to the next. Evidence of this was on display this past week as the graduates participated in a walk-through at each of our schools to say goodbye to the staff of each school, recognizing the contributions made by all to their collective and individual successes. It is one of the most emotional events on our school calendar, and watching the interaction of our graduates and former instructors is heart-warming.
Of course, we cannot forget our parents and guardians, who work collaboratively with us daily to help us provide our students with the best opportunities for future success. It is your attendance at games and extracurricular activities, parent-teacher conferences, and numerous other events to support your children's education. For many of our parents, it is exhausting after working all day and taking care of their families to get to the many extracurricular activities that take place at all of our schools. Nonetheless, the investment has clearly paid off for our Class of 2023.
Speaking of investments of time and treasure, our graduates would not have the enriching experiences they enjoyed here without the enormous contributions made by so many. And while it is always perilous to mention specific people and groups when giving thanks, lest we forget someone in the process, the risk is worth the reward.
A huge "thank you" goes to the following groups:
•Westport Parent Teachers' Organizations
•Westport Educational Foundation
•Westport Educational Fund
•Westport Music Boosters
•Westport Athletic Boosters
•Greater Fall River Development Corporation
•Senator Michael Rodrigues
•Representative Paul Schmid
Additionally, thanks go to our many local businesses and organizations who donated monies to help our students defray the cost of college. This year, students in the Class of 2023 received over $168,000.00 in scholarships from our area businesses and organizations. This is coupled with the over one-million dollars of in-kind scholarships our graduates received from their accepting colleges and universities.
Continuing the theme that "it takes a village," I want to thank the many departments in town that, without their support and help, we would not have enjoyed so many successes this school year. We feel lucky to have such strong relationships with our Police and Fire departments, who keep our students, staff, and visitors safe and are an integral part of our school community. We also would like to thank our Highway Department, who helped us safely open our buildings despite chronic personnel shortages. In addition, thanks go out to our Board of Health, who work collaboratively with the schools to best serve our community. We also want to recognize our Select Board, Finance Committee, and Town employees' continued support of our mission. A special thanks to Town Manager Jim Hartnett, who has been working for years behind the scenes on our building projects. Finally, I would be remiss not to thank our School Committee members who work tirelessly and without remuneration to benefit our school community.
The future is bright for our Westport schools, students, and community, and it is a credit to all of you who help make it happen.