LYNN — Steady drizzle, a piercing wind, and unseasonably cold temperatures proved to be no deterrent Saturday as 107 seniors received their diplomas from KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate.
Graduates, some bundled up in weatherwear more appropriate for early April and others wielding larger-than-life umbrellas, contemplated their legacies as leaders during the charter school’s ceremony at Manning Field.
“You have left a legacy of never settling for what is easy,” said keynote speaker and Assistant Principal Jessica Nakajima, who tried to define the essence of the class during her address.
“The Class of 2023 taught me doing things your own way is OK,” she said. “You showed me that ‘if you do right by us, we’ll do right by you.'”
“You have made your mark,” she said. “You have left your legacy.”
Mayor Jared Nicholson was among the first of the dignitaries to address the graduates.
“You are all leaders,” he said. “I have seen that on the steps of City Hall where some of you have gathered (for various causes). You are graduates. You are leaders.”
Nicholson urged the KIPP graduates to continue to be active.
“The only way democracy works,” he said, “is for you to embrace your roles as leaders.”
Valedictorian Taofeekat Lamina urged her classmates to use their voices for change.
“Be unapologetically opinionated,” she told them. “Be go-getters. Create an impact.”
“During our four years we have learned to strive for excellence,” she said. “We have worked above and beyond to show we are leaders.”
Luisa Bautista Rojas, the class-elected speaker, alluded to the togetherness of this year’s graduates.
“We have grown together,” she said. “We have been everything together. I am proud to say I’m part of KALC 2023.
“We have overcome obstacles and worked together to get to the finish line,” she added.
Salutatorian Eric Morales urged his fellow grads not to focus only on the finished product — satisfactory or otherwise — but to appreciate what it took to arrive at those ends.
“We’ve persevered,” he said, “We have more than earned this. But the end is merely a fraction of the journey, and that is where the meaning is.”
“Life can have its bitter endings,” he said. “But there’s richness in the journey that came before. It is in the presence of the moments that shaped us that there is truth.”
Morales also discussed the class’ passion in defending its beliefs.
“We refused to be defeated,” he said. “We refused to be stifled or silenced. Our ability to rise above today is a statement to our resilience.”
School Leader Shauna-Kaye Clarke greeted the graduates and talked of their legacy and contribution to the school.
“You are a breath of fresh air,” she said, “and there is nothing minor about any of you.”
Among the 39 colleges the graduates will attend in the fall are Boston College, Boston University, Duke University, Northeastern University, Providence College, Rice University, Rutgers University, Tufts University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and University of Massachusetts Amherst.