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Hopkinton High graduates celebrate an inclusive, community-minded class

  • Zoe Jantzen and Maria Booth walk in to the Durgin Arena at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds along with roughly 75 seniors who are graduating from Hopkinton High School on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Zoe Jantzen and Maria Booth walk in to the Durgin Arena at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds along with roughly 75 seniors who are graduating from Hopkinton High School on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

  • Hopkinton High School seniors met in a common area at the high school before the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Hopkinton High School seniors met in a common area at the high school before the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

  • Roughly 75 seniors at Hopkinton High School graduated Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Roughly 75 seniors at Hopkinton High School graduated Friday evening, June 7, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

  • From left, Cara Wayland and Lucas Arruda wait inside Hopkinton High School with roughly 75 other seniors before the commencement of their graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    From left, Cara Wayland and Lucas Arruda wait inside Hopkinton High School with roughly 75 other seniors before the commencement of their graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

  • Zoe Jantzen and Maria Booth walk in to the Durgin Arena at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds along with roughly 75 seniors who are graduating from Hopkinton High School on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Hopkinton High School seniors met in a common area at the high school before the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Roughly 75 seniors at Hopkinton High School graduated Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • From left, Cara Wayland and Lucas Arruda wait inside Hopkinton High School with roughly 75 other seniors before the commencement of their graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

When Marysol Newton transferred to Hopkinton High School from a private boarding school two years ago as a junior, she had no idea what to expect. The former Canterbury resident hadn’t attended public schools for years and knew few of the faces on her new campus.

But Newton, who graduated last night at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds alongside 73 fellow seniors, said she was immediately met with a warm reception.

“It was really awesome,” she said. “Everybody was super welcoming.”

Since arriving in Hopkinton, the 18-year-old, who is headed to Bowdoin College this fall, has been paying that kindness forward. She’s befriended exchange students, helping them improve their English and taking care to ensure they feel included in school and community activities. The gesture is also partly rooted in Newton’s upbringing, she said. Her mother is a Puerto Rican immigrant, and the family visits relatives and friends there each year.

Salutatorian Henry Merrow also touched on the inclusiveness of his small graduating class.

“When I first walked into Hopkinton High School my freshman year, I thought I knew what to expect,” Merrow said, as rain softly fell on the roof of the barn where the ceremony was held. “I already knew who my friends were, I knew what sports I would play, I knew what classes I would take.”

But his classmates pushed him to embrace new experiences, Merrow said.

“Without these 73 people standing with me, I would not have done half the things I did or had half as much fun,” he said.

Last night’s keynote speaker, U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, encouraged graduates to seize upon the opportunities each of them now faces.

“Your class, your generation, is graduating at a remarkable moment,” she said. “You are stepping into a world that is so rich with opportunity.”

Kuster, a longtime Hopkinton resident, offered two bits of advice: Let your passion point the way forward, and find a way to serve your community.

“You won’t always know where your talents will lead you,” she said. “There will be bumps and plenty of uncertainty along the way. But that’s not something to fear, because that in fact is what makes it worth the while.”

Valedictorian Lucas Arruda was less forthcoming with personal guidance. Instead, he recounted several fond memories gathered over the years: silent lunches, the infamous milk carton incident, that time a student climbed out on a roof.

“Overall, I can without a doubt say that this class of 2013 is the best and most enjoyable class that I have ever been in,” he said. “I will miss you a lot, and I hope to see you again sometime in the future. Goodbye, and good luck.”

At Bowdoin, Newton plans to set her Latin American background and interest in international relations onto a pre-law degree track. She said she also wants to become involved in campus groups that embrace ethnic diversity and promote acceptance of all sexual orientations.

At Hopkinton, she helped found a Model United Nations chapter, which competed against other schools at Dartmouth College earlier this year. She said she developed a commitment to tackling global issues early on.

“I’m biracial and see my family as culturally diverse,” Newton said. “I’ve grown up in a family where everyone’s from a different place, and has a different religion. And I’ve learned that it’s not always about solving a problem but rather finding a compromise.”

Jean-Philippe Dubois, another graduating senior, similarly devoted much of his high school tenure to learning about and engaging with other cultures.

Dubois, who studied French and German in high school and is headed to the University of Michigan, spent his junior year abroad in Switzerland – an experience he described as life changing.

“I really love meeting new people and learning their stories,” he said, recalling conversations he had with strangers on train trips through the Swiss countryside. “Language is a means to be able to connect with people.”

Dubois said he isn’t sure what he wants to do professionally or study specifically in college. He enjoys public speaking, he said, is a “huge history buff” and loves environmental science.

“I love basically everything,” he said. “I know I want to be able to interact with people, whatever I do.”

At Hopkinton, Dubois was involved in theater and helped start a statewide coalition of high school peace clubs. He said his feelings toward peace and activism were galvanized in part during his time abroad.

“My best friends were German and Turkish and Serbians,” he said. “I had so many different friends from so many different places. It reinforced my belief that everyone should be completely and totally equal.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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