Mortarboards, masks, and sunflowers at Wareham High’s 2020 graduation ceremony

Aug 8, 2020

The Wareham High School Class of 2020 celebrated their graduation on Saturday afternoon, socially distanced but with all the community spirit that grads praised in their speeches.

The ceremony was held on Spillane Field, with graduates and faculty in the bleachers as family members sat in six-foot-square sections painted onto the field for families to watch from at a safe distance from each other. 

The graduates voted in the spring to postpone graduation to August in hopes that they could celebrate in person -- a gamble that paid off as the class gathered together one last time.

Class President Jasmine Black opened the ceremony, saying, “148 days later, we finally made it.”

“Our class is one that Wareham High is never going to forget. Not because we’re living through history, but because of the unique individuals that make up our class,” Black said.

Because the annual Athletic Awards and Scholarship ceremonies were held virtually in June, the winners of those awards were listed.

Collectively, the class of 2020 received $250,000 in local scholarships. 

High School Principal Scott Palladino lauded the graduate’s accomplishments: 38 percent graduated with an A average or better, and 92 percent were involved in a club or team.

Most have their post-graduation plans in place, as 78 percent will be studying at a two or four year college or university, and eight percent will be entering the workforce.

“I want to thank you all for being great role models for all the underclassmen at Wareham High School to emulate. You have left big shoes to fill in so many ways,” Palladino said. “I hope you look back on your years at Wareham High School as fond memories that will last a lifetime.”

Salutatorian Niccolo Lembo-Volpe spoke of the strength and resilience of his classmates, many of whom have faced serious challenges in their lives, but have overcome them in part through the support of the students and staff of the Wareham Public Schools.

“No matter what each of us does after we leave this afternoon, we’ve been prepared by the overwhelming support of the Wareham School System,” Lembo-Volpe said. “Each of us has so much to look forward to after today… But it’s true, we’re going to learn what we used here for the rest of our lives. And the learning isn’t going to stop here. At Wareham High School, we were taught how to make the most of our experiences and improve upon ourselves in and out of the classrooms. That’s not a mentality that’s easily lost.”

Valedictorian Grace Cerrato attended private schools until high school, and said that she was scared before her first day. Since then, she said, she has become a part of a community that she loves. 

“Every single one of us has had the honor of experiencing the sense of community [at Wareham High] first hand. And we’ve all played an active role in the forwarding of those values,” Cerrato said. “So when people ask us where we grew up, or where we came from, we should be proud to say, a community where everyone is treated equally. We should be proud to say a town where we support one another no matter what. We should be proud to say a school where no one is judged by where they came from, how much money they have, or the color of their skin. We should be proud to say Wareham. Because while it may be our circumstances that made us a community, it was our attitudes that made us a family.”

Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood spoke about the value of the Wareham community, noting the outpouring of support for students and other community members since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“What I know with absolute certainty is that kindness exists in Wareham,” Shaver-Hood said. 

Students were given their diplomas and a sunflower (the class flower) before returning to their seats to ceremonially move their mortarboard’s tassel from the right to the left before tossing their caps in the air to applause and cheers from the audience.