Fort Frye graduates hold onto memories

BEVERLY – Fort Frye High School said goodbye to the Class of 2014 with fanfare on Saturday.

During the roughly 45-minute ceremony on the stadium’s football field, school officials, family and friends welcomed the 78 graduates to a new phase of their lives.

Of these students, three spoke – valedictorian Phoebe Thompson and both salutatorians Nicole Lang and Abbey Tornes – of different aspects of their fellow classmates and selves.

Thompson chose to discuss the official class song, country track “Wagon Wheel.”

“It is our official song, but it is unofficial in the way we sing along,” Thompson said. “It is our vernacular that we must shout it out the top of our lungs.”

Lang spoke of the song “Go the Distance” from the Disney animated film Hercules and how movies from childhood have different meanings as we move through life.

“This song is about Hercules finding his place in the world,” Lang said. “Once we cross this stage, we will no longer be high school students, but educated adults preparing to go out into the world.

“As you embark in Herculean journeys… be able to face the world fearless, proud and strong,” she added.

Tornes, Lang’s fellow salutatorian, spoke of the class motto, a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

“I think most of us can agree that, at one time, we hated school, but there will come a time we will want it back,” Tornes told her peers. “Graduation is not a time to be sad about leaving high school, but be glad for the experiences we have had because there are so many memories to be made.”

In an act of generous compassion, the graduates shared their day with Lowell native Bernard Engle, 87, who had not received his diploma from Lowell High School in 1944.

“When I signed up to join the Navy, I was told I couldn’t go until I had earned enough credits to graduate and once I did that, I left for war,” Engle told the crowd.

He had earned enough credits before graduation and was shipped out to join the U.S.S. Hornet in February 1945.

Engle, a resident of Vero Beach, Fla., graduated from the now defunct school but because of his duties in the Navy during World War II was unable to attend the ceremony.

“I thank you, Class of 2014, for sharing your day with me,” he told the students.