Hopkinton graduates a senior class known for their unity and tight-knit friendships

  • Hopkinton High School valendictorian and class president Francie Trafton (left) and Chloe Tworek get their photograph taken by friends before the pair lead their classmates into the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 17, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton High School valedictorian and class president Francie Trafton (left) leads her classmates into the graduation ceremony on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton High School valendictorian and class president Francie Trafton (center) gets ready to lead her classmates into the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 17, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton High School valendictorian and class president Francie Trafton (center) gets ready to lead her classmates into the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, June 17, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/18/2022 12:02:14 PM

Francie Trafton, senior class president and valedictorian at Hopkinton High School, took none of the standard high school experiences for granted during her senior year. Every small moment with her friends and classmates was special, after four years punctuated by the beginning of the pandemic when she celebrated a birthday by waving to a friend from across a parking lot.

Trafton embraced the return to academic normalcy in her final year of high school by starting a club to play steel drums, an instrument originally from Trinidad and Tobago well-suited to upbeat songs like “Under the Sea” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

During her sophomore year, Trafton was learning to play steel drums in a class that Hopkinton used to offer before the pandemic hit. As a senior, she recruited a few friends from her Nordic ski team to play together before school.

“It’s our last time with each other,” Trafton said. “Being able to go to the musical or spectate at games or homecoming, we all realize that not only is this our last time, this is one of our only times.”

She is excited for the next chapter of her life in Brunswick, Maine where she will attend Bowdoin College, but she will miss the friends she made at Hopkinton.

“There are definitely times when just the small size of Hopkinton was a challenge, I felt as if I’d known the same people for ten years,” Trafton said. “Ultimately, I think that was definitely a positive.”

On Friday, Trafton was one of 82 Hopkinton seniors wearing dark green robes and clutching white flowers as they received their diplomas inside the Durgin Arena. Inside the barn on Hopkinton Fairgrounds, families celebrated the graduates as they passed under rows of string lights and a white-and-green balloon arch.

Speakers advised the graduates to stay true to themselves, take risks and never stop learning. Hopkinton social studies teacher Pam Moskal, who is retiring after 20 years in the classroom, likened the class of 2022 to a garden, nurtured in Hopkinton High School’s rich soil and now finally blossoming.

Hopkinton Superintendent Michael Flynn reminded students to set aside their phones and reach for human connection.

“Everyone in this barn here has taken a different path to this day,” Flynn said, which for many students meant months of indecision about where they might attend college. “No matter what path you choose – whether its higher ed, a career path, the Armed Forces – do the right thing and be a good person.”

In her salutatorian address, Chloe Tworek discussed the big decisions she and her fellow graduates are making now about the rest of their lives beyond “the red brick walls of Hopkinton High School.” Her key advice was not to be swayed by others’ opinions.

“What other people think won’t matter if you are living your life to the fullest and enjoying every moment doing what you want,” Tworek said.

Trafton began her valedictorian address by showing her graduating classmates and their families a piece of paper from April 19, 2012 with notes welcoming her to Hopkinton on the day Trafton started second grade.

As she praised the tight-knit community at Hopkinton High School, Trafton also highlighted the wide array of interests among her classmates, including the 51 student-athletes in the graduating class. The school has won 20 Division II state championships during the last four years.

One star athlete crossing the stage on Friday was Ashlee Brehio, who will be bringing her stellar skills to the soccer team at Elon University next fall. Brehio’s brother, who is seven years older, attended Elon first, instilling in her the desire to eventually follow in his footsteps to North Carolina.

Brehio said she won’t soon forget the championship game of her junior year, which Hopkinton won 4-1 thanks to the hat-trick she scored.

“It’s really exciting, getting to move on after graduating,” Brehio said, although she is nervous for pre-season training. She is considering studying computer science so she can design video games like Sims 4.

Hopkinton School Board Chair Andrea Folsom acknowledged the pandemic-induced loss and anxiety that the class of 2022 had experienced through much of their time in high school, but said what she had heard most about the class were descriptors like “unity” and “lifelong friendships.”

“You’re a new link in the chain of history that connects us to the future. And we couldn’t be more proud of you,” Folsom said.

Cassidy Jensen bio photo

Cassidy Jensen has been a reporter at the Monitor, covering the city of Concord and criminal justice, since July 2021. Previously, she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, where she earned a master's degree. Her work has been published in Documented, THE CITY, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. When she's not at City Council meetings, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains.

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