The sweltering heat on Saturday morning did not diminish the excitement of the friends and family who gathered outside on the football bleachers to watch Westfield Academy and Central School's class of 2014 receive their diplomas.
Sixty-three students swathed in white and blue marched to their seats in the open field, a slightly greater number of students than last year. David Davidson, school superintendent, delivered the introduction.
"Treat people with respect," he addressed the seniors. "Find what it is you love to do, and then do it."
Photo by Adam Glasier
Westfield Academy Central School students throw their caps toward the sky.
"The unity of our class is what I am most proud of," said Salutatorian Mackenzi Habig. "They are kind and caring people who will make a difference in the world." She added, "Even though we will all be parting, the roots of Westfield will remain within us all."
Habig also reflected on the loss of Damon W. Janes, a junior athlete who died last September after he was injured during a football game - not on its sadness, but rather the unity and the kindness his passing brought to the senior class.
Valedictorian Emma Fermier admitted that she felt as awkward as the rest of her peers waiting to receive their diplomas. "No one seems to know where their lives are going, whether that may be college, the military, or jobs," she said.
To assure the seniors in the midst of their uncertainty, Fermier asked her classmates two questions: "Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely."
Aaron Resnick, a member of the WACS class of 1992, delivered the commencement address. Resnick attended Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., where he studied accounting and finance and became a member of their Honors Internship Program. He co-founded TimberFish Technologies and serves as executive director of the Westfield Development Corporation.
Resnick discussed the comfort zone. He described a simple diagram composed of two circles, one big and one small. Unlike a Venn diagram, these did not overlap.
The small circle represented one's comfort zone while the larger circle represented "where the magic happens."
"It's not until we leave our comfort zones when things begin to happen," said Resnick. For him, going to college, working for the Shiva Corporation, and traveling to Tokyo all required stepping out of his own comfort zone. He even had to step out of his comfort zone to deliver his speech that day, he noted humorously.
"The fear of failure is the greatest reason people do not leave the comfort zone," Resnick added, "but we must learn from failure, even if it means taking small steps."
The top academic achievers, according to the graduation program, were Emma Fermier, Mackenzi Habig, Rachel Allen, Emily Beers, Megan Fisher, Nathan Hanes, Christopher Kelley, Laura Kitchen, Sofia Rubin, and Lindsey Vicary.
Allen, Beers, Fermier, Fisher, Habig, Kelley, and Kitchen are also members of the National Honor Society.
The graduating students were handed their diplomas by Jeff Greabell, president of the board of education, and Ivana Hite, the secondary school principal.
See Sunday's A4 for jump pics