400+ take diplomas, Class of `72 reps visit, share stories


Valedictorian Rachael Yuan (Franklin TV Screen Shot)

After years of hard work, more than 400 Franklin High School Seniors capped an elaborate commencement ceremony with individual awarding of diplomas.

After Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance concluded, Principal Joshua Hanna, introduced an elaborate performance of America the Beautiful in which graduating seniors came forward to perform.

Hanna recognized town and school officials and then shared his experience with the visiting members of the class of 1972.

“In the early ‘70s Franklin's population was about 17,000, close to half of what it is today. According to this class, though, here were no traffic lights in town, 495 was in the construction phase, and they graduated 264 students on June 5. In school those days they allowed smoking in an outside section where teachers had duties watching students smoke cigarettes, and seniors ushered in a ‘no dress code’ era.... The football team won 25 straight games... then a state record. They were three-time Hockomock League champions. The baseball team went to the South Eastern Regional finals... I guess some things never change.”

He then introduced Abhiram Yadlapalli, the class vice president, who spoke about his concern over the events in Uvalde and in other school shootings. He went on to talk about the big transitions in store for graduates, leaving “an eternal march towards the next half day,” and going to a world where no one will tell us what to do. “This may very well be the last time the 400 something of us are together. It's bittersweet.”

Other speakers, the salutatorian and valedictorian, shared their own personal thoughts.

Salutatorian Chaitanya Harsha said, “It might seem that we're burdened by our consciousness, but it actually sets us free. Life may not have an intrinsic meaning, but that gives us the liberty to assign to it whatever value we choose.” Later he continued on a similar theme, stating, “Thus, in my opinion, if there's a philosophy to live by, I think it's to do what makes you happy. Maximize your own joy for the fleeting time that you get to experience it. I think this thing sums it up quite nicely. Keep an eye on the future and a foot in the present.”

Valedictorian Rachael Yuan spoke about how her high school experience had changed her view of teachers, from people who simply give you assignments and demand certain results, to something much more. At FHS, “It was the way they approached the class, the way the class made us feel. Looking back, I remember the patience of one of my teachers every time I stayed after school for extra help. I remember how she analyzed every question that I answered incorrectly with me, demonstrating her desire for me to succeed. I also remember my piano teacher’s compassion and her unselfish dedication to her students and how she comforted me after the recitals I felt were unsatisfactory.”

The ceremony also included a number of other recognitions, in particular, three individuals entering the US military.

It was then time for departing superintendent Sara Ahern and School Committee Vice Chair Elise Stokes to take turns passing out diplomas...

As the evening had chilled significantly, when ceremonies concluded, many individuals hurried for the warmth of cars or sweaters while senior plans to return later for the traditional “all night party.”

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