Canton High School bids farewell to Class of 2015

Superintendent Jeffrey Granatino, in his final commencement address, congratulates the Class of 2015 on a job well done. (Mike Barucci photo)

Superintendent Jeffrey Granatino, in his final commencement address, congratulates the Class of 2015 on a job well done. (Mike Barucci photo)

See this week’s Canton Citizen for complete graduation coverage, including then and now photos, future plans, scholarships and awards, and more.

The weather held up beautifully and the speakers came through with the perfect blend of humor and heart as the Canton High School Class of 2015 marked the end of their high school journeys last week in a memorable and moving commencement ceremony on the CHS turf field.

Friday’s graduation exercises were the second in a row to be held outdoors, following a run of four consecutive indoor ceremonies from 2010 to 2013. And it proved to be a “spectacular setting” for a very special group of graduates, noted outgoing Superintendent Jeffrey Granatino.

In his fifth and final commencement address before heading off to the Marshfield Public Schools, Granatino said he will definitely miss this year’s class of 221 seniors.

“You have left behind a legacy of commitment, compassion and success that will be remembered for years to come,” he said. “You have grown with each step you have taken and learned lessons from every roadblock you hit along the way.”

Earlier in his speech, Granatino attempted something he had “never done at a graduation before” — he told a joke, and he was largely successful, eliciting genuine laughter for his story about a magic knowledge pill.

The truth, of course, as Granatino reminded the graduates, is that there is no magic pill or “easy button” that leads to success; rather, it takes hard work and perseverance.

“You won musical awards and scored winning runs,” he said, “not because someone gave them to you. You worked hard each and every day. And when no one was looking, you worked even harder. Many of you will be attending some of the finest universities not because you cut corners or took the easy way out. You will be going there because of the work you put in, because of your perseverance and because you cared.”

Granatino, meanwhile, was not the only one to use humor in his speech to the graduates. All three student speeches, in fact, were littered with punch lines and pop culture references — from Chipotle to Charlie Sheen.

Class President Eileen Khoury, reflecting on the past four years of high school, delivered her lines with the cadence of a stand-up comedian, nailing jokes about their prom venue burning to the ground as well as the “unjust removal of [their] beloved cafeteria cookies,” among other high school tragedies.

Joint salutatorians and friends Liam Collins and Sebastian Kupchaunis, who gave a single speech about the power of teamwork and friendship, made excellent use of hyperbole to generate laughs as they reflected on some of the “greatest duos of all time” while also examining the cut-throat world of fantasy football.

Finally, this year’s valedictorian, Shane Ezepik, embraced a level of faux arrogance typically associated with top-ranked students in a self-deprecating bit about overcoming adversity.

Valedictorian Shane Ezepik (Mike Barucci photo)

Valedictorian Shane Ezepik (Mike Barucci photo)

After initially joking that he had “never faced a single hardship” in his life, Ezepik recalled his challenges on the golf team earlier this year and advised the graduates that through “perseverance, tenacity and a strong will to attain one’s goals, nothing is out of reach.”

“I ask each of you to think back upon all that you have accomplished in your lives thus far,” he said, “and remind you there are far greater successes that have yet to be seized and that as long as you never lose sight of them will always be present and obtainable.”

Khoury also had advice for her classmates, reminding them that the past four years, although memorable, are “but a blip” in their lives. “Strive for better than you are or have been,” she said. “Use what CHS has given us, a superior education and the will to be more, to conquer the great big world that awaits us all.”

Collins and Kupchaunis also advised the graduates that “without each other, we do not reach our full potential.”

“Seniors, if you retain anything from high school, more so than any textbook knowledge you acquired, retain the friendships that mean the most to you,” Kupchaunis said. “Chances are you’ll se your best friends quite often so I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m talking about the people who you think you may not see again but you’d like to. Don’t let them slip away or let time wither the friendship.”

In addition to the student speakers, the commencement also featured remarks by school and community leaders, including CHS Principal Derek Folan, School Committee Chairman Bob Golledge, and Selectmen Chairman John Connolly.

Folan took the opportunity to honor the grandparents in attendance, as well as his own “memere,” who passed away earlier this year. He urged the graduates to have lunch or dinner with their grandparents before leaving for school or work or the military.

“In a helter-skelter society, they will make time stand still,” he said. “And their words will help you make sense of this world. They have the words of wisdom, the values, the advice. They will be honest, funny and genuine. That conversation will be the graduation gift, for you are a gift to them. They will love the companionship and they can’t wait to beam with pride for all of the things you have done and will do.”

Golledge reflected on the rapid pace of change during the graduates’ lifetimes and emphasized the uncertainty of the future. “However, I am certain,” he said, “that each and every one of you has the potential to make real, lasting, and positive impacts on your family, friends, and community.”

Connolly encouraged the graduates to “ignore the negative noise” and to follow their instincts and their heart. He also urged them to “remember always where you come from.”

“Canton is a special place, a place that will always be a proud part of who you are,” he said. “Don’t ever forget you’re a Cantonite. Wherever life may take you, you are a Cantonite.”

In addition to the speeches, the commencement featured performances by the CHS chorus and chorale, which sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “In My Life” under the direction of Darrel Whidden, and the CHS band, which played “Whither Must I Wander” by Vaughan Williams under the direction of Brian Thomas. The invocation was delivered by Rev. Dr. John Tamilio III of the United Church of Christ. The ceremony also included the seventh annual presentation of the Paul Matthews Senior Cup, which went to seniors Grace Barrera and Liam Collins.

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