“This is a secret from me to you,” said valedictorian Beatriz Cuevas to her fellow graduates of the Memorial High School class of 2010 at their June 22 ceremony. “People who put themselves last receive more smiles than anyone else.”
Cuevas told a story about a friend who thought you have to knock other people down to have success in life – but Cuevas begged to differ, recalling a quote she once heard from the Bible.
“ ‘Those who are last will be first, and those who are first will be last,’ ” she said.
On Tuesday night, Cuevas and 400 other seniors graduated in the West New York Middle School gymnasium.
“We need to live for something bigger than ourselves.” – Santiago Bustamante
Cuevas said that besides hard work, one other thing was also necessary for the students’ success: a helping hand.
“The more helping hands we lend to others, the more will be available to us,” said Cuevas.
Cuevas said that the top graduates in the class are among the kindest people she knows.
The road ahead
It is expected that approximately 80 percent of this year’s graduates from Memorial High School will be attending some type of continuing education in the fall.
Some are enrolled in competitive schools like Columbia University, the Stevens Institute of Technology, Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Virginia.
Cuevas will attend Columbia in New York City. Salutatorian Santiago Bustamante will attend Rutgers University.
Bustamante said he has many memories from senior year that he will cherish as he moves on to college, such as going to Dorney Park with the band, participating in the school play, and of course, attending the senior prom.
“They’re all very important memories I’ve made, that remind me why I loved high school,” he said.
Among the lessons he’s learned at Memorial High School, Bustamante said, the most significant was learning the importance of goals.
“We always should have a goal in life,” he said. “We need to live for something bigger than ourselves.”
“There’s so much greatness and potential inside every single person,” he added. “But if motivation or a goal are lacking, then those strengths can’t really come out.”
Well wishes from the mayor
“It’s the most special day in the town of West New York,” said Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega as he addressed the graduates.
He warned students as they prepare to go out into the world, “the reputation of our great town is in your hands.”
Though he said not every lesson the students learned in their four years of high school came from a book or lecture (some had to be learned during time at the principal’s office), Vega said they are all lessons the students will take with them on their journey.
The mayor ended his speech by making comments to the parents in Spanish, saying that the best teachers are the parents, and the lessons learned at home are taken into the classroom.
As for what’s great about Memorial High School, Vega said, “It’s not a building; it’s what happens inside Memorial High School.”
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.