No. Smithfield grads look at fate, connections to lead them forward

No. Smithfield grads look at fate, connections to lead them forward

Seniors Nicara McLaughlin and Rowen Lanier get together for a selfie before the procession to the football field at North Smithfield High School’s commencement ceremony last Friday. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Members of the North Smithfield High School Class of 2017 held a commencement celebration on the school’s turf field last Friday evening.

Graduates heard words of encouragement that focused on both connections made during four years at the school, and the potentially unexpected results the graduates’ actions can have on both their futures and the lives of others.

“We’ve all marked each other, changed each other, and though we may move on now, and lead distant lives, where we came from will never change,” said Valedictorian Abigail Palmer. “Over time we all become much more than just ourselves. We become products of countless interactions with people that were meant to come into our lives.”

School Committee Chairman James Lombardi asked the students to look beyond a profession in deciding what they want from their future.

“I ask each of you to take time to think hard about who you want to be,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than holding yourself to a high moral standard.”

Pawtucket Red Sox President Charles Steinberg gave the school’s commencement address, telling the story of how lucky coincidences – and the right attitude and decisions – landed him in his dream career. Steinberg worked for more than 11 years with the Boston Red Sox, and is largely credited with creating the team’s trademark fan experience. He has also worked for the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers.

It began, he said, with a senior project, a requirement at his Maryland high school that students in North Smithfield also face each year. Steinberg landed a stint in the public relations office for the Baltimore Orioles.

“Your careers have begun even if you don’t know what you want to do yet. Just a couple yesterdays ago, I was you. I didn’t know it was the beginning,” Steinberg said.

It was in the public relations office at the ballpark, he said, that he learned the importance of “the philosophy of yes.”

Salutatorian Jacob DiSpirito reflected on the bonds he and his classmates built over the years.

“Tonight is a very exciting night, but I know that there is a part of us wishing that we had more time,” DiSpirito said. “There truly is only one word to describe graduation and that’s bittersweet.”

DiSpirito said he knows great things are ahead for this class.

“Whether someone is planning to be a doctor or a teacher, I can guarantee that the members of this class will leave their mark on the world for the better,” he said.

Supt. Michael St. Jean, giving his first commencement speech after joining the district last August, discussed what he learned during his time in North Smithfield, from the “exceptional” school programs to the bonds between people.

“Everyone I’ve met in my year here has expressed this deep connection with their community and with each other,” he said.

Adding humor to the ceremony was Principal Timothy McGee, who recited a poem he’d written for the class while wearing a Dr. Seuss hat.

“You came here as children and leave as adults. I’m proud of you all, just look at results,” McGee rhymed. “Forever a Northman, that’s what you’ll be. We wish you the best from (Assistant Principal Steven) Boss and McGee.

In her message to the graduates, Palmer said that her favorite Greek myth was Plato’s assertion that humans had four legs, four arms and two faces before Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.

“What I love about it isn’t the bit about soul mates, but rather the broader idea that the people who come into our lives do so for a reason,” she said. “They’re all part of our path, and we all have the same goal really, which is to become the greatest versions of ourselves.”

“We could chalk the fact that every one of us is sitting here today up to a random bit of chance, but the romantic in me wants to believe that the Greeks were onto something when they talked about fate,” Palmer said.

Palmer told the graduates that her hope was that they find their other half, “whether its a dream job, a family, a place, or a person.”

“Let go of any fears or doubts. You find what makes you happiest and forget about what anyone else will think.”

The North Smithfield High School graduates march from the school to the football field silhouetted under a brilliant blue sky at the commencement ceremony last Friday at the school’s football field.
Valedictorian Abigail Palmer addresses the graduates.
School nurse Janine Ethier passes out roses to Monica Maccrone, left, and Samantha Gallant before the ceremony.
The processional concludes and the graduation ceremony begins. North Smithfield High School held its commencement ceremony last Friday at the school’s football field.
Senior members of the band, from left, Nicholas Hanoian, Alex Bourque and Samuel Turco, perform in a medley of Star Wars marches for their final band appearance.