The Class of 2018, After Making a Difference at CRLS, Goes Out into the Real World

Graduation Celebrated the Seniors’ Impact On Rindge, Cambridge, And Each Other

Isabelle Agee-Jacobson, Contributing Writer

At 6:00 on June 7th, CRLS’ Frisoli Field House was covered in rows upon rows of folding chairs, a plush red carpet, and hundreds of family members, friends and relatives. All of these many people, dressed up for the occasion, were in the field house to see the CRLS Class of 2018 graduate from high school.

Before the ceremony, the 485 graduating seniors gathered in the gym on the second floor of the War Memorial building. As they mingled with friends, adjusted their caps and gowns, and found their places in the procession line, the seniors’ excitement for what was to come was palpable.

Na-Jae Josephs said to the Register Forum, “I feel really good about graduating. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments so far. I’m the first person in my family to ever graduate high school so that’s pretty impressive.” He continued, saying, “I did it all for my mom and my grandmother. My grandmother had a rough life and I feel like by doing this, I paid tribute to the struggles she went through in order to get us where we are today.”

Zenon Padua expressed the feelings of several CRLS seniors when he commented, “I feel like my senioritis has reached a maximum. I feel like I graduated four weeks ago and this is more of a formality. I’m really excited [about the future], I really want to move on, I’m ready to move on.”

To everyone. We are a difficult group. Let’s stay difficult. It’s the difficult people who change the world.

— A graduating senior

Many of the seniors looked fondly back at their time at CRLS. Fosca Bechthold told the Register Forum that “one of the biggest things CRLS has given me is a love for learning and helped me find my values.”

The ceremony began with a welcome in 19 of the 28 languages the class of 2018 speaks, including Arabic, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Amharic. Following the welcome, Principal Damon Smith, Superintendent Kenneth Salim, Mayor Marc McGovern, as well as Student Body President Sophie Harrington, Senior Class President Leonardo Escobar, and the Class of 2018 valedictorian Lily Grob, all gave remarks. In addition, senior vocalist Kyla Friedan gave two rousing performances: the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Many of the speeches brought up the numerous accomplishments of the Class of 2018, especially those related to activism and making change in the Cambridge community. Mr. Smith applauded the seniors for demanding truth, saying, “During their time at CRLS, this class has challenged status quo on issues within and outside our school, and insisted that we take both collective and individual steps to improve for all of our students.” He continued, “Thank you for sharing your truths and for compelling the school, and the Cambridge community to examine, reflect, and change.”

In his remarks, Mr. Salim focused on the Class of 2018 through a generational lens. “Class of 2018, as you begin your journey here today beyond Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, I have great confidence that you will be the leading edge of a yet to be named generation that is already helping the rest of us make a better and more just place, and improve lives for all,” he told the seniors.  

During the Commencement Ceremony, four teachers were given teacher distinction awards, sponsored by Friends of CRLS.  The 2018 recipients of the awards were voted on by the seniors, and they chose Mr. Brett Cramp, a drama teacher, Mr. Kevin Dua, a history teacher and advisor to CRLS’ Black Student Union, Ms. Rachel Otty, a history teacher, and Ms. Toby Stomberg, a biology and environmental science teacher.

Sophie Harrington’s speech, while celebratory, was a forceful call to action. “This year, more than other in the past four years, we have heard stories from each other about experiences of microaggressions, sexual assault, religious intolerance, and gender discrimination,” she said, pointing out that the Class of 2018 has challenged “an air of complacency in Cambridge.” She concluded, “We have been brought up to believe that our school district is without flaws. The danger in Cambridge is not that we are a district that has flaws, but that we pretend that we don’t. So CRLS Class of 2018, wherever you end up after high school, I challenge all of you to resist passivity, even when it means putting yourself in an uncomfortable position.”

The final speech of the night was given by Lily Grob, the valedictorian. Grob began with the words of several seniors who had responded to a survey she had sent out about their reflections. One of these reflections from an anonymous senior read: “To everyone. We are a difficult group. Let’s stay difficult. It’s the difficult people who change the world.” Another wrote, “I was so sick of this school since freshman year but I pushed through and I made it so that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. Push through.”

However, Grob also offered her own remarks, noting, “Now [graduation] is here and the next step is literally just a few steps across this stage away. And I don’t think I’m ready. Not because I don’t feel prepared—these four years have definitely prepared me for the big wide world—I am simply not ready to say goodbye to all of you.” She drew her remarks to a close by saying, “Some of us will keep in touch, remain friends, even marry. Others will exist only as thoughts, memories. But the truth is, throughout it all, our class will be the backdrop, the lens through which we see the world. Your voices now will be guiding me for the rest of my life.”

Want more pictures? Find them here, all courtesy of RF photographer, Sakib Asraf.