Graduation 2015 – Sturgis East

Maura Coughlin, Class of 2016, leads the procession of Sturgis East faculty and seniors through Hyannis Village Green to Hyannis Harbor for the 2015 graduation ceremony on May 30.

Maura Coughlin, Class of 2016, leads the procession of Sturgis East faculty and seniors through Hyannis Village Green to Hyannis Harbor for the 2015 graduation ceremony on May 30.


May 30, 2015 was the perfect day for the 14th graduation of Sturgis East and the 2nd graduation of Sturgis West. Both graduation ceremonies were held at Aselton Park overlooking Hyannis Harbor. The day of festivities began with Sturgis East graduation at 10:00 AM followed by Sturgis West graduation at 2:30 PM.  

This article includes full text of graduation speeches along with links to videos of each speech and a selection of photographs by Jarvis Chen and Marion Weeks.  We hope the speeches, videos and photographs capture a bit of the spirit of the 2015 Sturgis East Graduation.

Congratulations Sturgis East Class of 2015: Kevin Agostinelli, Julia Ailes, Megan Anderson, Andreza Andrade, Collin Bailey, Daniel Bondarek, Brianna Botelho, Sophia Braddel, Benjamin Bressette, Emma Brimdyr, Samantha Bryant, Catherine Cameron, Matthew Cappucci, Nicole Collucci, Erin Coyne, Ian Coyne, Miguel Cruz, Andrew Cullinan, Cicely Dahn, Grant Dauwalder, Asia Davis, Laurenn DeDecko, Padraic Devine, Mathew Diamond, Julia Dillon, Liam Doherty, Meaghan Fitzgerald, Christopher Fones, Ginnelle Foster, Rafael Freelund, Sonya Gaudet, Cooper Gavin, Nicholas Goetz, Sander Goldman, Frank Gototweski,  Danielle Gregg, Victoria Harris, Sophie Hartzler, Ryan Havey, Cooper Heilmann, Nathaniel Higgins. Patrick Holmes, Thomas Homand, Ella Hunt, Jared Jasie, Melissa Jones, Morgan Joseph, Logan Joyce, Peter Keefe, Kyle Kenney, Thomas Kerr, Andrew Knittle,  Robert Labbe,  Mackenzie Langan, Gibson Leavitt, Alexander Lieberwirth, Jonah Linhares, Kealoha Lopez, Savannah Luke, Galen McDonald, Rowen McEnaney, Emily McGlone,  Peter McPherson, Julianna Murphy, Timothy Murphy, Aaron Nadler, Emma-Kate Nemes,  Hannah Newcombe, Tyler Nickerson, Joseph O’Brien, Anna Pannell, Lily Paradise, Aidan Parent, Parth Patel, Ryson Phares, Caitlin Pollard, Liam Prendergast, Margaret Randall, Katherine Roderick, Grayce Rogers, Robin Saudade,  Noah Savini, Madeline Scozzari, Cassidy Sequin, Samantha Silverbrand, Laura Sirhal, Daniel Smith, Dean Smith Jr, Daniel   Souza, Isabelle Springer, Emilie Steven, Jillian Stinnett, Julia Tager, Jacob Tobey, Caitlin Waring, Samuel Watson, JohnWatters, Nicholas Winters, Samuel Wood, Hunter Woodbury, Zoe Wright, and Samantha Yetman

Nautical Traditions of Sturgis Graduation

Shining White tentSturgis graduations are a wonderful celebration of the achievements of our students. The ceremony incorporates several nautical traditions that reflect our maritime setting and connection to Captain William Sturgis (1782-1863) for whom our school is named. Decked out in the finery of robes, Sturgis grads march with faculty down Main Street and through the Village Green to Hyannis Harbor where they enter a shining white tent filled with people who love them and have traveled far to be present at their commencement. No graduation is ever complete without sounds of the harbor in the background – including an occasional blast from a ferry’s horn!

Signing the Ship’s Log

Sophia Braddel Signs Out

Sophia Braddel Signs Out

After receiving their diploma, each graduate proceeds to a table displaying a ship’s log. When students first begin their journey at Sturgis, they sign the log.  Just as William Sturgis signed on board for his first voyage, students “sign on for a term of duty,” signifying their request to begin the voyage.  At the end of graduation, students “sign out” next to their original signature, signifying completion of the voyage.  The lucky last student in each class (alphabetically speaking!) is given the honor of ringing the ship’s bell.

Welcoming Address by Eric Hieser, Executive Director

Sturgis East Class of 2015, Parents, Faculty, Board of Trustees, Relatives, & Friends:

Eric Hieser, Executive Director

Eric Hieser, Executive Director

Welcome to the Graduation Ceremony for Sturgis Charter Public School—East Campus.  We are very happy to present to you this Class of 2015, a class full of students who took a risk by leaving friends behind as they were looking for something more, and, in my view, the best preparation for university available anywhere in the world! They have challenged themselves and embraced the Sturgis Mission of “International Baccalaureate for All”.  They have brought their unique personalities, their passion, and their enthusiasm to create a vibrant school culture where hard work and academic excellence are celebrated.  The founders of Sturgis envisioned a cutting edge public school that would challenge all students with academic rigor and would have many students achieve the IB Diploma. The Class of 2015 embodies the Learner Profile traits that the IB envisions for students, such as inquiry, caring, risk-taking, principled, and knowledgeable to name a few of the ten.

Sturgis East Class of 2015

Sturgis East Class of 2015

This Class of 2015 has helped Sturgis once again gain recognition across the Cape, Massachusetts, the U.S. and around the world.  This class helped Sturgis to be ranked once again this year by the U.S. News and World Report as the #1 public high school in Massachusetts.  This ranking demonstrates how Sturgis students have sought out academic rigor and have been successful due to their work ethic and passion for learning.  Of course, our students can gain a sense of affirmation from this achievement, yet we know that it was only through the collaboration and support of our students, parents, faculty, and Board of Trustees that Sturgis is able to realize such a high standard of excellence.  In reviewing the graduation speeches submitted by the members of this class, one theme mentioned throughout virtually all of the speeches was their tremendous admiration and respect for their teachers.  I now ask the faculty of Sturgis East to stand and be recognized by the class and the audience for their outstanding work.

The Class of 2015 has had a very successful year in college admission with many of these seniors receiving significant scholarships and grants.  Their success has increased student and parent interest in attending Sturgis as we now have more than 600 students on the waiting lists still seeking admission to Sturgis despite the opening of our of the Sturgis West campus with 400 additional students.

I would like to digress a bit now so that I can recognize five people will be leaving us this year.  While we have a few faculty who will be heading off to distant corners of the world, it is always difficult to say good-bye to those who have helped guide young people and the school as it has evolved.  They believed in the vision that we have for our students as they felt that they were a good match for the Sturgis IB for All mission.  I want to recognize and thank them for their outstanding work with our students over the years: Lindsey Weaver, Bailey Cavanaugh, Laurie Davis, Regi Katz, and Eric Porteus please stand.

As I noted before, many of the Class of 2015 submitted excellent graduation speeches, but we were only able to choose two to be given today.  As our students live the Sturgis experience every day, a few years ago I started a graduation tradition of sharing with the audience some of the ideas and perspectives from speeches that are not being delivered today.

Julia Tager

Julia Tager

From Julia Tager:  Little did I know when I walked into school on my first day, that we would accomplish so much.   I didn’t know that 3 years later I’d be writing a dissertation in French!  Whether or not you chose the full IB diploma, you know that your 4 years at Sturgis spell intense academic challenges all along the way.  I tried to imagine what it would be like if Sturgis did not exist—if we never met at all, each staying at our home high schools.  Sam Wood would have saved gallons upon gallons of gas due to not having to make the lengthy journey from Provincetown every day.  The annex might still be a furniture building,  and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority might be broke without all of us, or the P & B busses might not be so packed on weekdays.  But I hope that the best part about coming together—all by chance, thanks to some tiny printed lottery numbers on a January in 2011—has been growing our community.  Sturgis really is made up of that lucky group of 14 year-olds whose names get pulled in the lottery or off the wait list.  Class of 2015, I feel like the luckiest one to say that my life has been touched by you.  Thank you!

Sam Wood

Sam Wood

From Sam Wood:  Many of you know that I was not as student at Sturgis first.  I attended a high school whose name I won’t speak, where I was tortured by its barbaric environment for the first few weeks of freshman year.  When I was offered a spot at Sturgis, I was eager to accept.  And I should have been, for the school would contribute much more to my education that I thought plausible.  Graduation day is the time that one is bound to begin reminiscing, but I say if I don’t have to remember that physics IB exam, all the better!!  It is not often found in history that anyone of any social class is allowed a strong education.  Usually, it’s reserved for a select few.  Regardless of what any angry students or adults say about this school in regard to their own preferred means of education, there are few schools that can compete with Sturgis—public or private.

Lily Paradise

Lily Paradise

From Lily Paradise:  We have finally made it to the “light at the end of the tunnel” that was promised us.  We’re free from all those acronyms—IAs, IOCs, EE’s, IOP’s—that only ever really stood for stress!  The school never has been easy so this is quite the accomplishment.  Sleep became a luxury and it was hard to believe there was really an end to all of this.  We’ve all been given more than enough challenges to overcome, but none of us gave up.  Now we are equipped with a strength that none of us possessed before coming to this place.  Teachers that we’ve had for years or maybe never at all have been a huge part of our Sturgis careers.  It is going to be hard to leave them behind.  So before we go, thank you, teachers, for sharing your love of the subjects you teach us and for never wanting to see us fail.

Sophia Braddel

Sophia Braddel

From Sophia Braddel:  These past two years in the IB have pushed me harder than I ever thought I could endure.  Even the times when I was trying to memorize my monologues, having two hour rehearsals, working through lunch, finishing my Extended Essay and only resting when it was time to go to sleep, it was the most accomplished I’ve ever felt.  The harder we pushed—the closer we all became.  It is the small things that I will remember, especially Ms. Daley asking us, “Well, how do you know that?”


Kevin Agostinelli

From Kevin Agostinelli:  When being asked what about Sturgis separates it from most other high schools, I respond with “the teachers” without any hesitation.  The faculty here are simply world class, using their time, talents, and treasures to make us better students.  I am forever indebted to these teachers for inspiring me as I changed from a boy to a young man.  We symbolize everything that Sturgis has to offer.  We trust and believe in ourselves and we trust and believe in each other.  We finished these four years as better people.

Maggie Randall

Maggie Randall

From Maggie Randall:  For the past four years, I have been taking so many simple, beautiful things for granted.  I have delved wholly into the pleasure of going to a school where I can talk to everyone, where I have someone in every single class that I can turn to for help, where I can discuss a myriad of topics with my teachers, where I can ask my teacher to adopt me and it’s not weird—just kidding, it is still weird, but it’s OK.  Seniors, someday we will find ourselves in foreign places with new faces thinking about sunny days in Hyannis—and we won’t let go.

Matthew Cappucci

Matthew Cappucci

And finally, from Matt Cappucci:  720 school days ago on August 28, 2011, 102 of us flocked to Sturgis in search of new opportunities:  specifically more welcoming classmates, a more conducive atmosphere to learning, more supportive teachers, and a more challenging education.  Mr. Rich told us a story and ended it with these words, “There will be people out there that will try to crush your dreams; they’ll pound your dreams with a hammer; they’ll jab at your dreams with a scissors, and maybe leave them in a pile of shreds.  And in the end, despite what they may do to your dreams, you must always remember that they’re still just as valuable as when you started, still as important, and still out there waiting for you to cash them in.”  We are heading on out to pursue our dreams!  We’re all here right now, graduating from one of the best educational institutions in not only the state, but the entire country.  It has been an incredible effort, not only by the students but most especially by teachers and faculty as well.  It has been rigorous, immensely challenging, and at times you may have felt that you could persevere no longer.  But you did it, and I commend each and every one of you!  What makes us different is that the teachers don’t care only about how strong we are as students, but they care for our happiness and well-being as a person—I am truly blessed!

Words of wisdom from the Class of 2015!

At graduation, I like to take a minute or two to reflect on some of the individuals that I will remember from this class.  I do so, knowing that I surely won’t be able to mention everyone who deserves recognition.  I will always remember:

  • The amazing academic, athletic, musical, literary, and interpersonal talents of Kevin Agostinelli;
  • The spirit, energy, crazy sense of humor, and enthusiastic embrace of life itself of Maggie Randall;
  • The theatrical talents, humble spirit, and world view of Sophia Braddel;
  • The good humor and almost obsessive commitment to all things baseball of Jared Jasie;
  • The leadership, selfless giving, and commitment to others of Julia Tager;
  • The priority that Sam Wood placed on getting the best education possible by traveling 1.5 hours each way to school each day;
  • How Jacob Tobey embraced all aspects of school life with enthusiasm, spirit, and complete commitment;
  • And finally, the extraordinary intellect, laser focus and internal drive, and all of the awards and scholarships far too many to mention–of Harvard-bound, Matthew Cappucci.
Seniors at Harbor

Class of 2015 – Graduation Rehearsal at Hyannis Harbor – May 29, 2015

Class of 2015, we gave you wings—wings to soar, to question, to contribute, to care about one another and to make the world a better place.  Giving you wings to ensure your success was our goal, and we know that a piece of whatever you do, will come from your Sturgis roots.

I will end my words with my favorite quote about:

“The Essence of Success”:

Successful is the person who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;

who has gained the respect of children,

who leaves the world better than one found it,

who has never lacked appreciation for the earth’s beauty,

who never fails to look for the best in others, or

give the best of oneself.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!  Sturgis is proud of the wings that we have given you and– what you have become.  We hope that you cherish your roots in Sturgis.  Thank you.


Greetings from the Board of Trustees – Mary Agostinelli, Trustee

Mary Agostinelli

Mary Agostinelli

Good morning. My name is Mary Agostinelli. I am a member of the Sturgis Board of Trustees. I am also the proud parent of Meghan, Class of 2013, Kevin, Class of 2015, and Mark, Class of 2017.

The Board of Trustees is the organized group of volunteers who, collectively, are legally and morally accountable to the community for the health, vitality, and effectiveness of the Sturgis Charter Public School. The Board’s primary role is “Governance”, which encompasses legal responsibilities, general oversight, planning and policy-making, and meeting fiduciary requirements.

We are a diverse group of individuals of different skills, opinions and experiences; however, we are united in our respect for the administration, faculty, and students at Sturgis Charter School. I have been asked to speak briefly, on behalf of the Board, to the Sturgis Class of 2015.

Today many people are congratulating you on the success of your graduation. Indeed, it IS a significant accomplishment. It took serious commitment to complete all your CAS work, your internal assessments, your paper 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s, and don’t forget that 4000 word extended essay.

Yet, I would like instead to congratulate you today on your failures from the past four years. Yes, you heard me right. I would like to applaud you for the test questions that baffled you, the sporting events that ended before you could stage a comeback, the elections in which you came up short, the colleges that couldn’t see clearly enough to accept you, the auditions when you hit the wrong note, the awards that you didn’t receive, and even the weather forecasts you didn’t get quite right.  Wow, what an impressive list!

At Sturgis, as in life, failure is just another word for growing. Babies can’t walk, talk or translate Latin when they are born. They will topple over, again and again, before they learn to walk, but ultimately they will get the hang of it and learn to run.

There was a time when Einstein couldn’t count to ten, yet eventually even he mastered Higher Level Math. Shakespeare needed to learn his ABC’s before he could write Twelfth Night. Each wrong answer or bad review stretched their brains and challenged them to keep trying. They believed they could learn anything.

So why do I celebrate your failures on a day like this?

Because through these experiences you have learned that tenacity and effort can sometimes change the outcomes in your life. That is a lesson worth remembering when you hit the next bump in the road, whether that hurdle happens in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Alabama, or even Tennessee.

In one of my favorite Nike TV commercials, Michael Jordan, one of the most celebrated athletes of all time discusses the importance of his failures. He explains, “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 26 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. “

I grew up in New Jersey, approximately 25 minutes from the Thomas Edison museum in Menlo Park. Edison was responsible for over 1000 patents, some were refinements of previous inventions and some were completely original ideas. A famous story tells that Edison failed to refine the light bulb after many, many attempts. He is quoted as answering questions related to this failure by saying “I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that it didn’t work.”

So, to what extent in your future life will you fail your way forward? I don’t know, but I do know you will face failure again.  How do I know? I will leave that answer to the Theory of Knowledge teachers. Yet, I am confident that because of your experiences at Sturgis, you are more resilient and confident in your ability to thrive.  Because of your teachers, administrators, and peers at Sturgis, you are more willing to ask for help. You are more prepared to face any challenge and emerge even stronger than you are today.

I wish you the best and thank you for your attention.


Sturgis Faculty – Chris Abel, History

Chris Abel

Chris Abel

Thanks – parents, friends, relatives, fellow teachers, administrators and mostly the class of 2015 for the opportunity to be here with you – it is an honor and a privilege to be asked to speak at such an important event

It is never easy to know what to say to anyone when they reach an important milestone in their life, such as the one which these young people here are rapidly approaching.

It is in that vein that I would like to start by reading a poem by a woman by the name of Linda Winchell, whom I presume most – if not all – of you have never heard of.

And, before I begin, I would like to encourage all of you to read.  To read as much as humanly possible – books, articles, journals . . . and poems.  For, if you haven’t figured it out already, you don’t have all the answers.  None of us do.  Not your parents; not your teachers; not your friends.  And, the reality is that sometimes it takes the words of a complete stranger to find meaning, clarity and understanding among the many complex and confusing situations that life is guaranteed to send your way.

As such, the words of a complete stranger that I would like to share with you come from a poem, entitled:  “A Cardboard Box”

I crawled under the house to retrieve
some things that I had forgotten.
While I took them out, I sorted and found
that most of what I’d stored, was damp and rotten.

As I climbed through the memories I once knew
stuck together were photos of me and my brother.
As I pulled them apart, their memories rushed to my heart
past memories now a big part of all the others. 

There was more than mold in that cardboard box
there were those memories of things from my past.
But as I now see, they will always be, in my hearts memories
and not those tangible things that just won’t last. 

I would like all of you to think back to the memories you hold most dear from the years gone by.  For some of you this may be of dreams you have captured, fulfilled and moved on.  For others, this nostalgic wander may lead you to suddenly remembering that which you may have forgotten, neglected or left tragically incomplete.  For memories can be a wonderful thing, but they can also symbolize all that we failed to do.  This is how life works.  There is simply never enough time and in the end, it is the memories that remind us of this.  The aging singer, Eddie Vedder recently lamented in a song:  “what were all those dreams we shared those many years ago…what were all those plans we made, left behind us in the road?”

However, those of you upon this stage are still young and the future is unfolding in front of you.   The idea of being a middle-aged person looking back on life seems so very far away.  Your life is about looking forward to an unknown future, not backward to memories with all of their burdens and joys.  Time truly is…on your side.

However, time is a funny thing.  One moment it appears that time is all you have.  You worry not about minutes, hours or days…..and before you know it, 10 years have passed.

This can be a truly frightening prospect, for as Ben Franklin once noted:  “lost time is never found again.”

This same sentiment was noted by Henry VIII who was once purported to have said:  “of all the things a man can lose, there is only one that he is incapable of recovering . . . . time . . .

I think what they were both trying to say is that it is so very hard to avoid the great conflict that William Penn described when he stated:  “time is what we want the most, but what we use the worst.”

What you do with the time you are given will shape the precious memories which are truly your own.  The memories of dreams fulfilled rather than those lost or forgotten.

Because all of life is memory in its own way.  The moment is here and then it is gone and all that is left are the faded recollections of how it once was.

As the poet Harry Conte once wrote:  “today is the memory we dream of tomorrow.”

So, what advice can I give in the face of such a reality?  Perhaps I could reference the oft-quoted poem by Robert Frost telling you to take the path less travelled, for in his mind, that will make all the difference.  I assure that there are many in your situation who are right now hearing this very message.

But, I am here to tell you….there is no “road more or less travelled”….the forest within which you walk is a blank slate called “life.”  And the path you carve each day will be as unique as fingerprints or snowflakes…as unique as you.

None of us asked to be born.  And none of us knows the ultimate destiny of our lives.  It is on the journey that we will evolve into who, and what, we are.  And every day is an opportunity – to one extent or another – to shape that journey and thus shape ourselves.

If you haven’t realized it yet, here’s something I hope you never forget:  There will never be another you.

Tracing back from time beyond memory and moving forward, you can be assured that everything that has ever happened….all of the evolution, all of the changes, all of the tragedy, joy, misery and hope….all happened in order to bring you here…

To bring you here as the unique person you are today – a person who will never be replicated, no matter how long time marches on

Now, this may seem like an enormous burden…and it is.  But, perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

I cannot tell you how to be the irreplaceable you.  I can only tell you that in order to be unique, you don’t need to feed the egotistical, narcissistic tendencies that exist in all of us.  Worry not about how to best immortalize yourself via social media.  For your memories, and the memories of you, will not be found in the incessant selfies, Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram updates.  They will come from what you did today – here and now – with those who are around you.

You cannot live in the moment and capture it at the same time.   And you must ask yourself if documenting your life is more important than living it.  As Bob Marley reminds us:  “some people feel the rain…others just get wet.”

I think what I am trying to say with all of this is that this life is short, but the living is long.  And as you see life stretching out in front of you, I hope you realize that it is here in the “now” that life becomes memory and you become who you are.  Not in the endless plans for the future, not in the endless pontificating about what could have been in the past.  The here.  The now.  This is your life.    This is your journey.

Pooh Bear once asked his friend Piglet: “What day is it?”  To which Piglet responded: “it is today”

And to that Pooh declared joyfully:  “My favorite day”

In other words, live today as if it were the best and only day you will be given.   So, put down your phone, turn off your computer.  It is true that the remote changes the channel, but it also has an “off” button.

Go outside.  Enjoy the glorious symphony of life.  Go so far you are no longer afraid to come back.  As Albert Einstein reminds us, “A ship is safe at shore, but that is not what it is built for.”

And always remember:  You don’t need to change the world, only the small bit that surrounds you in the moment…and don’t wish the moment away hoping that better ones lie ahead.

For one day you will reach an age where the memories start to overwhelm the experiences….and you will begin to spend more time looking back on life rather than looking forward ….and though that time is not now, I hope when it arrives that you can look back, smile and rejoice in all that has come to pass.

For as Leonard Nimoy noted in what turned out to be his final words: “Life is like a garden.  Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved…except in a memory”

And with that, let us come full circle.  Go out and live.  Live today – the one and only day that is guaranteed to you.  When the day comes many years from now that you crawl into some long-forgotten space and drag out a box full of your memories, I hope they remain as fresh as they day they were formed…as fresh as today.  And I hope that the mold clings not to your brilliant reminiscences of this wonderful gift of life….but, only to those tangible things that just don’t last.                Thank you.


Sturgis Class of 2015 – Victoria Jackson


Victoria Jackson

Victoria Jackson

Four years ago, at the start of my Sturgis career, 2015 was a distant idea. It seemed this day would never come, especially considering the fact that the world was supposed to end halfway through our freshman year. But the Mayans made mistakes, as we all do (even those of us who are Harvard bound) and it didn’t end, which was almost too bad because it meant that we would all face the real IB. Talk about the end of the world… But, together, we survived that too. Together, we survived the IB, EE, Foster; things that, to the normal person, mean absolutely nothing. But no one here is “normal,” in part, because of those things.

I think I speak for everyone in declaring that you cannot be a normal person and willingly sign up for this program, knowing all that it entails. If a salesperson called me about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to challenge myself to meet international standards, complete college­level work, give up my freetime and endure many sleepless nights, I would say, “Take me off your call list.” So for that reason I’m certainly glad Sturgis sells itself. It sells itself not by its ranking as the #1 public high school in the state but by something that cannot be compared to any other school in the country; its reputation as so much more than that.

I’m sure we’ve all heard tales, or rather scary bedtime stories, about the “early years,” when Sturgis was just starting out. At that time, there was not yet a reputation, or even much recognition, given to the establishment. The concept of “IB for All” was commonly unknown. As I learned in ESS, people who are not well-educated about a matter often choose to simply not believe in it; which is perhaps why many people did not believe in Sturgis. In the end, that may have been for the better of us all, as it created the foundation for the same school that stands today; a school where students and teachers alike have, and continue, to fight for what they believe in. Thanks to my experience with the History Paper 2, I think we can all conclude that there is now enough evidence to support the claim that “IB for All” is possible. Although nowhere in the Sturgis mission statement does it mention an agenda of proving others wrong, there is something so satisfactory about the phrase “I told you so,” and I hope to hear Mr. Heiser utter it someday, even if very quietly and to no one in particular, although they know who they are. While it was often a joke that being in a building with puzzle­piece classrooms that featured no windows and a hallway with a “Fountain of Youth” helped to build character, it was funny because it was true; and, just as the campus helped to build each students’ character, each student here today also contributed to the character of the school. I would like to think that we, just as every graduating class before us, are a part of something very special; the legacy of East.

As a student, I never felt that I was working to maintain the academic status of this school; rather, I felt that I was being prepared for my place in this world. While we spent a good amount of time preparing to meet the international standards of our IB exams, more emphasis was put on personal growth and development. I was taught that who you are as a student and, more importantly, who you are as a person, cannot be defined by a grade or any other measure of your academic performance. In fact, it cannot be defined by anyone other than yourself. This school is unique in that it somehow manages to cater to every individual, which is what really drives this message home. That seems to be the “Sturgis Secret.”

But in reality, it’s no secret at all. It’s on account of the hard work and dedication of its students to excel in every aspect of their lives; no doubt a product of the hard work and dedication of its faculty members to see that it is made possible. This shows in the unique bonds that were formed between the Class of 2015 and our teachers, our mentors. Yes, Mr. Matthews, “Teachers, like parents, aren’t supposed to have favorites.” but there is a double standard. I think it’s fair to say that, while every teacher impacted our lives in some way or another, there are some who changed our lives forever. Over the years, we relied on them to provide us with support and advice to get us through high school and, in turn, were offered something much greater that would last much longer; their wisdom. It could be the teacher who inspired us to choose a career path, or who taught us a lesson of kindness or tolerance for others. Most likely, I think it is the teacher who made obvious the fact that, in a school of roughly 400 students, no one goes unnoticed; that you are not invisible.

No student is invisible at Sturgis. I know this because I tried so hard to be invisible and it simply didn’t work. It didn’t work because, as long as I wasn’t giving up on Sturgis, Sturgis wasn’t giving up on me. Here, I wasn’t just a student behind a desk, a locker number or a photo in the yearbook. Here, I was a voice, even if a very quiet one at that, and my teachers and peers wanted me to be heard. So I have to thank my fellow classmates for helping me find my voice as well. In addition to the bonds we formed with our teachers, there are the bonds we formed with each other. There are the friends we made and the people who helped us discover who we are, even if they are not one in the same, and the moments in which we created memories together.

As I prepared to face this day, I was reminded of one cliché, “Everything comes at a price.” It’s true; no one here was simply handed a cap and gown. It was a journey, one I don’t think anybody here would regret for the world, but there were certainly sacrifices made along the way. For every sacrifice, there is one tangible reward which we have all received today. However, there is an infinite number of intangible rewards we have earned along the way. It’s not the diploma or certificate which makes this incredible experience worthwhile; it is the experience itself.

It is the trust that instills a strong sense of responsibility in each individual. It’s the unconditional acceptance of each member of the community that creates a sense of belonging. It’s the feeling of being valued by others, which in turn, teaches many how to value themselves. It’s finding out that there is only one way to learn, and that is in your own way. It’s the overwhelming amount of support offered in an effort to achieve shared, as well as individual, goals; whether it be related to school, sports, travel, the arts, or something previously unheard of. Today, we have proven this to be true. I hope that, as we continue our lives and start new journeys, we remind ourselves of this simple truth. After all, it’s what we all believed in.


Ryan King Award – Susan Voigt, Special Education Coordinator

Sam Watson wins Ryan King award

Sam Watson wins Ryan King award

The Ryan King Award is given to the graduating senior who most exhibits perseverance, determination, resolve and a positive attitude in their academic pursuits at Sturgis. Ryan King, 2002 Sturgis Graduate suffered from a serious head injury when hit by a car on Main Street outside of Sturgis during her junior year.  She displayed Remarkable endurance that the Sturgis community seeks to remember and emulate each year by selecting a deserving student for the Ryan King Award accompanied by a Sturgis Parent Association Scholarship of $500.

It’s impressive when we meet people who offer such a huge burst of uplifting spirit in our lives.

Sam Watson and Susan Voigt

Sam Watson and Susan Voigt

The student I am talking about does this in very small ways to very big ways.  I have known this student for 4 years and the countless times I have passed him in the hall or on Main Street there is not a time that I did not get a big sincere smile and hello how are you?  This is not because he appreciates all the Sturgis Staff members, but this is his genuine way with how he cares for people.  The big ways I have seen this student persevere is through his self-reflective journey and not SUCH an easy journey.  He has transformed from a shy, principled, young boy with little understanding that life is so much better beyond the electronic gaming world!…   to a confident  well-spoken young man who walks tall and purposefully.   He has recognized that he can push himself to not only grow intellectually, but foster those other key non-academic elements by joining clubs and organizations, playing on the Sturgis Baseball team, and joining the Sturgis Track and Field Team and chosen to be an Assistant Captain from his peers that highly respect his character.  I also hear he is a great break dancer!

This student who continually inspires ME to see the brighter side of life is Sam Watson.


Sturgis Faculty – Marca Daley, Theory of Knowledge

Marca Daley

Marca Daley

Mr. Hieser, Mr. Marble, Mrs. Agostinelli and the Board of Trustees, Colleagues, Parents, and most important, Graduating Seniors: the Class of 2015.

On a Sunday evening in June 1968, I stood at a podium in the courtyard of Nauset Regional High School, and addressed my classmates at our high school graduation.  I was speaking because my teachers believed that I was a senior who had something of value to say and they had chosen me as one of the commencement speakers.  Today, 47 years later, you students have chosen me as one of your commencement speakers; I hope because you believe that as your teacher I have something of value to say.  I will do my best.

My speech, when I was a senior and 18, was titled: To Live Rather Than to Exist and I exhorted my classmates to make something of their lives, to strive for goals that would give meaning to them.  It wasn’t a very good speech – for one thing, it was too general, and I didn’t have the experience really to speak of ‘living’ – most of my experiences with ‘life’ (and as a senior in high school in 1968 none of us thought what we were going through was ‘real life’) were gained vicariously through reading.   Yes, I was an avid reader!

Today, I am still a voracious reader, but I have also experienced life beyond Cape Cod in a city of 5 million at the “crossroads” of Europe and the Middle East.   In the nearly 40 years that I lived Athens, I learned a lifetime (or two) of lessons.  But now I have come back to the Cape, and I want to focus on two aspects that are central to our shared lives here at Sturgischange and joy. 

Four years ago you all faced a change; you came to Sturgis and elected to be a part of IB for All.   This year, your senior year, brought more challenges, and I wanted to help you meet them head on.  I wished that I could teach you by example, but I knew that you needed to learn life’s lessons on your own, and that I could only advise.   I made a decision at the beginning of the year to support you in whatever way I could, and to create some laughter in your lives, by showing you that you are not alone, that your experiences, however personal, are also shared experiences.   Sometimes I even shared stories.  “Did I ever tell you about the time…?”

Let me take you back.

In August you showed up in TOK class to a basket of coloured markers and a stack of paper plates .  What was the metaphor?  “What did you have on your plates?”   Senior year obligations and expectations.  We covered one corner of the classroom walls with your plates, and I watched and learned about you as you shared with each other not only your “to-do” lists, but your laughter and hopes and anxieties.  Your plates were full; filled with Sturgis activities,  IB obligations, the College application process, family and social obligations, volunteer work, part-time jobs, and if you had any more room on your plate, time for yourself,  and (possibly?) time to sleep.  Some of you asked questions on your plates:  “How do I change the world?” (Do you remember writing that, Sophia?)  “Can it all be achieved?”  (I wonder how you’ve answered this, Julia.)   Some of you put advice on your plates, but these tended to be anonymous…  “Avoid panic and existential crises.”  One piece of advice in particular touched me: “maintain a decent personality.”    I agree, Dan.  Even as we are faced with obligations, we must strive first and foremost to remain decent human beings.

You seniors probably thought at times that you’d never get through what was on your plate your senior year; and yet you also knew you were not alone; and now, here you are.  As I thought about what I would say to you today, I experienced a series of coincidences—serendipitous and seemingly unrelated happenings.

First, I was reading the book, The Road to Character by David Brooks.  (Remember, I’m a reader!)  Brooks writes, “Joy is a by-product experienced by people who are aiming for something else.  But it comes.  Joy emanates unbidden and unforced.  Joy comes as a gift when you least expect it.”   As I read and re-read his words, I thought back on this year and our shared experiences, and I found myself nodding and smiling… I understood exactly what he meant.

Then I spent the day at the Sturgis East Arts Festival, and was awed by the talent, energy and sheer joy that enveloped us throughout the day.  Driving home, I thought of David Brooks’ words, and smiled all the way.

The next week, for a CAS reflection, I revisited the Sturgis Passion Project’s manifesto which stated:

  • We believe that anyone can make a difference in changing the world with enough hard work, dedication, and kindness.
  • We believe we can change the world for the better, one small step at a time.

Again, I thought back on the past two years, and of Julia and Ella and all the members of the SPP who have been in the club since its founding. Many of you sit here today, having made a difference by bringing change and joy to so many people’s lives.


That Wednesday, when a softball practice was cancelled, I drove home via the beach road, and discovered that my childhood friend and conservation activist, Peter Brown, the “Eco-Terrorist” was at his home in Eastham.   I asked if he would come to Sturgis to speak to you.  He agreed, and his message echoed Julia’s:  “Individuals change the world.  You can make a difference.”   I thought, “Wow!  What a coincidence!”

Later that week, I received the lyrics for the faculty lip-sync. (I hope you seniors were surprised!) Three of my lines were from a Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror”

And no message could have been any clearer,

If you want to make the world a better place,

Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.  

I began to notice a pattern, a pattern that resonated with a message of joy and change.

Finally, after school one day, I stopped by to see Ms Vari, and there I read some of your senior reflections.   One in particular struck me as the answer to the unwritten and unspoken question about the value of joy and change.  Lily, thank you for allowing me to share your thoughts today; you wrote:  “I was given more than enough challenges to overcome, but standing at the end, looking back, I possess more strength, acceptance, knowledge, and love than I ever thought possible.  Don’t give up because struggle results in beautiful things.”

Yes, Lily, struggles result in beautiful things.   Times change, our environment changes, we change.  The world I knew in 1968 is not the world you know in 2015.  Ours was a time of struggle and protest and wars that didn’t really touch me personally until I went to university.  You studied these topics in IB History:  the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Marches, the Paris uprisings, Bobby Kennedy’s assassination.  But 1968 was also the ‘summer of peace and love’ and although new high school graduates like me vaguely worried about where our world was heading, we also knew where we were heading – usually to Nauset beach with our guitars and our surfboards. Did I ever tell you about the time…?    No?   Another time then.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this year.  Your senior year.  Your year of IB challenges and personal changes – and I hope, of joy.  To paraphrase Jacob’s song in Slash, the Musical,

You were a group of high school friends,

Waiting for the school year’s end…” 

Well, the waiting has ended!

Seniors, your lives have changed since September, but you have also changed lives.  I know, because my life has been changed forever – because of you!   Seniors, go into the world.  Go into the world with joy!  And ‘be the change!’   I know you can.

And now, a short farewell in another form:  I have not forgotten my promise, Emily; and I hope it makes you smile.

You Seniors are the best, and there’s not one exception,

So let me take a moment here to give you my perception.

You came to class for TOK not knowing what to expect;

You did the work and humored me, although you seemed perplexed.

We had debates; you argued well; you gave fish ‘food for thought.’

We had Fun Fridays, TED Talks, too, and homework (not a lot!).

You learned to judge and looked at life from different perspectives;

Your thoughts became analytical; your writing was reflective.

You spent much time on research and in writing your EE,

And learnt a whole new language – acronyms for the IB!

With PPF’s and PPD’s RLE’s and AOK’s,

Marca Daley with Grads

Marca Daley with Grads

The IB program must have seemed at times a long & tortuous maze.

You filled your plates (back in the fall) with senior obligations;

But now you’re done; you’ve done it all; it’s time for celebrations!

“You brought me joy,” as someone said; it’s corny but it’s true

And my life is rich and richer still, because of kids like you.

Your thoughtfulness and kindnesses are impossible to forget

In class and out, you’ve made me laugh, and I’ve not one regret.

So before you sign out of the log and march on down the aisle,

Stop and look back on your senior year – you’ll see it was worthwhile.

You entered school as children; you leave as young adults,

You worked quite hard and hopefully will get great IB results!

The friends you’ve made at Sturgis will last for years to come

This chapter’s over, turn the page, a new one has begun.


Sturgis Class of 2015 – Dan Souza


Dan Souza

Dan Souza

As we sit here on the final edge of our high school career, ready to flip the page, and end this chapter in our lives, it is easy to say that we will simply fold the corner of the page, come back often, and every character in our lives will always be there. But this is not what good stories are made out of. Good stories have a hero who marches forward despite the emotional consequences faced at the end of each chapter. Not every member of the team can stick around until the end of the quest, but each is crucial in the development and progress of the hero. It is important to continue moving forward yet equally important to appreciate that the universe has just handed you such a great chapter in your life. This is not going to be the climax in the story that is your life, but hopefully, this has been one incredible exposition. Take time today to thank all of the people who played roles in the exposition of your life, and even further appreciate those friends who may even see you through to the end. That being said, there is a lot to look forward to.

When asked to reflect on your time at Sturgis, you will likely answer that it was “tough” or “challenging.” Some of you will say that at points, you could barely stand Sturgis. But after this, you will probably then say that it was worth it, and that if you had not battled the monsters you faced in high school, the novel which is your life would never have been so compelling. The antagonistic forces which you faced in this chapter of your epic are the ones which turned you into the person you are, and have helped to prove why you are worth rooting for. And so you have been defined by the challenges which you faced throughout high school. If I have learned anything from Sturgis, it is that one of the greatest things that can happen to any human being is that they care so much about something that they can occasionally no longer bear it. Sturgis has helped so many of us in the way that we have found something we love, something we aren’t going to just settle for, something that we will pull our hair out over until we finally achieve our goal. Sturgis has shown to all of us the beauty of emotional distress and passion when they merge. This merging is when your story will really begin, this is when the hero finds their direction, and when you become that hero. I am equally pleased to say that I have watched how this has helped my peers grow throughout high school. Hopefully, we will all be able to enter and experience the rest of our lives with something that makes our blood boil due to the burning desire to achieve it. I hope that you feel these emotions of fiery desire often.

But some of us haven’t found our passion, and that can feel scary. We don’t all know the internal reason, or even the external reason that we are working for on our quests. One of the most frightening things is going into the world being expected to change it, but still having no idea how exactly to go about doing that. Some of you may not have a clue what you want to do in the workforce, or what you want to do with  your college experience. Some of you may think you know what you want to do, but will for some reason change your mind in the near future. With all of this considered, it isn’t easy to find what you feel emotionally destined to do, what your narrator, the universe, has in store for you. Many of you will likely be surprised by life after high school, and as a result you may no longer want to affect it in the way you had originally planned. And that’s scary. But there is some safety in all of these facts.

My time at Sturgis has made me feel safe because whether I am destined to change the universe in any particular fashion, or whether there is no real plan for me and I am going to have to improvise as my life goes on, I have at least been prepared by friends and mentors who knew what they were doing. That being said, the risk of the real world is that you may not have a clear path, no easily distinguishable route from your point A to the point B which will hopefully help you leave your mark in human history. Your plot may be more convoluted than others. But Sturgis has shown you how to work through the moments of uncertainty, where you weren’t quite sure you could make it to the end.

The Class of 2015 is a remarkable one, filled with leaders and champions whose stories I know will amaze us. But we have been helped along the way by teachers who were willing to bring us to the limits of our abilities. These one hundred some-odd students are pushed to follow their ambitions by their teachers, friends, and all members of the Sturgis community. I have experienced this first-hand.

When I was a sophomore acting for the Sturgis Theater Guild, I was one day approached by Mrs. Ollagnon. When she approached me, I had just been busy bragging about the lead role I had been given in the spring production. Classic me. What she said to me was this: “Dan, I am going to push you really hard, and sometimes, you aren’t going to like it. but I’m going to push you.” She did. And she was right, because sometimes, I didn’t like it at all. But it was something I needed, and something we all needed as we embarked on this treacherous journey through Sturgis, the IB, and some of the most formative years of our adolescence. Because we have been surrounded by such a supportive community over the past four years, we have repeatedly challenged ourselves to the point where we felt uncomfortable. But it was because our teachers and peers were counting on us to push back, to become stronger, to answer this question for ourselves, “Is what I’m doing really worth it?” I know that many of you will answer this question with a hardy “yes” and that you will continue to say “yes” throughout your lives.

On my last day as an official Sturgis student, I would like to thank the people here for helping me realize that it was never about being able to do everything, and that it was about finding what I feel happy doing. What Sturgis stands for, to me, is the foundation of passion, and the opportunity to build and grow from that which we feel in our hearts. Without our friends, or the support of our teachers, there is no possibility that we would have been able to get to this page. Had we not been given this support, it is quite possible that our stories would never have developed like they have, and would be utterly dull and boring. Thankfully, they most certainly were not because many of us were introduced to the driving forces of our plots. We were introduced to our passions.

Sturgis taught me what passion is. Passion is not characterized by what you are naturally good at, not by the feeling of being able to do something with ease, but it is more so characterized by the willingness to persevere and to strive for success despite the fact that something is hard. Passion is when you know you probably won’t be able to do something, and the odds of success are nearly a million to one, but you try anyways. You try as hard as you can, and sometimes you have to try so hard that you get angry, or frustrated, or even sad, because what you are so passionate about no longer comes easily. But you don’t care, because the only reason you are irritated is because you want to succeed so badly. And that is something we all need.

The passion and determination of my peers has inspired me throughout these years, and I am thankful for that. It lifts my spirits to think about Jacob Tobey sitting in the booth during Sturgis baseball games, providing his electric commentary, or to think about Jack Watters’ magical stories flying of off his fingertips as he sits at his computer exhausted, still trying to perfect his masterfully composed scripts. To see Graycie Rogers’ intensity on the volleyball court, or to see Galen McDonald empty his heart into his drawings. It inspires me to think about Peter Keefe, who originally was not even cast in the spring production for STAGE last year, but who also quickly committed himself to being the best he could be, and within a few months, he was later able to deliver an exhilarating, professional performance as one of the lead roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The dedication that all of you exemplify should be noted, because while we may not all share the same specific interests, we can all relate to the enthusiasm we feel in our various pursuits. All of these people got to where they were because they were willing to work through their setbacks, and remained loyal to goals. It has been a pleasure to watch all of you transform, and to find something that you are willing to challenge yourselves for. No matter how many scary dragons, evil witches, emotional struggles or academic challenges these lionhearted students face, they forge on until they reach their goals, and this quality exists within every one of my classmates. The extent to which all of these students have grown is brilliant, and that is because they all happen to be brilliant people.

Moving forward, my main advice is to keep looking for things that make you feel upset from time to time. If you are truly affected by it, then it might matter to you. To my classmates, teachers, and all members of the Sturgis community, I challenge you to keep looking to grow, and to keep looking for something that matters to you. Whether you’ve already found a path, or you’re looking for one, I encourage you to challenge your limits once in a while, be the hero you know you were always meant to be, to make the mark you want, and above all, to be excellent to one another. Signed, sincerely, lovingly, thankfully, dramatically, creatively, and of course grammatically, your friend, Daniel Souza.


Gretchen Buntschuh Literary Scholarship – Paul Marble, Sturgis East Principal

Paul Marble presents Buntschuh Award to Kevin Agostinelli

Paul Marble presents Buntschuh Award to Kevin Agostinelli

Gretchen Buntschuh was a colleague of ours who taught English at Sturgis and influenced students and colleagues with her grace, insight and command of language.  Sadly, Gretchen died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.

The Gretchen Buntschuh Literary Scholarship is awarded each year to a graduating senior who has demonstrated a genuine interest in literature and gift for language.

Sturgis faculty provided the following description of this year’s winner:

Chris Abel, history teacher noted: “He is an accomplished scholar with an uncanny ability to synthesize historical information and his arguments in the written word. His distinguished historical analytical skills are displayed consistently in his written assignments”

Kevin reads his bookBob Wojtowicz, English teacher noted: “”From the different genres we studied in Higher Level English–including world literature, poetry, plays, and essays—this student demonstrated the ability to read, understand, and discuss each type of work with a keen eye and open mind but more importantly in a true scholarly approach to his exploration of literature.  In the many essays and reflections he wrote for class, he effortlessly honed in on relevant themes and prominent uses of literary features, all the while showing that his own writing reveals not only an effective response to a prompt or question but also shows the mind and thinking of a true intellectual, an erudite thinker who–as the adage goes–is wise beyond his years.”

Following thoughtful deliberation, the scholarship committee and English Department faculty feel the senior who best embodies the spirit of Ms. Buntschuh’s gift and passion for language is … Kevin Agostinelli.

In addition to this $500 scholarship, Talin Bookbindery in Yarmouthport has donated a beautifully hand-bound collection of Kevin’s essays written during his four years at Sturgis. Talin hopes to inspire fine young writers to continue writing and to develop an appreciation for the ancient craft of bookbinding.   Congratulations!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: