Graduation 2018 – Sturgis West

June 2, 2018 was the perfect day for the 17th graduation of Sturgis East and the 5th graduation of Sturgis West. Both graduation ceremonies were held at Aselton Park overlooking Hyannis Harbor. The day of festivities began with Sturgis West graduation at 10:00 AM followed by Sturgis East graduation at 2:30 PM. This article includes full text of graduation speeches along with links to videos of several speeches and a selection of photographs by Jarvis Chen.  We hope the speeches, videos and photographs capture a bit of the spirit of the 2016 Sturgis West Graduation.

Congratulations Sturgis West Class of 2018:

Justin T. Absten, Owyn P.  Adams, Matthew C. Aguiar, Victoria L. Almeida, John M. Andre, Jonathan K. Avis, Sydney A. Barletta, John A. Barrera, Kamryn E. Barrows, Klaire C. Barrows, Michael P. Burke, Kate E. Burrell, Ludjy N. Butter, Maya R. Cass, Kayla M. Cavanaugh, Forrest K. Chapman, Jonathan E. Cloutier, William P. Colarusso, Ashley E. Cooper, Lauren E. Cooper, Angela L. Cote, Katelyn A. Coughlin, Zakary C. Dauphinais, Caitlyn A. Davis, James V. Deal, Samantha L. DeCesare, Jessica L. Dickey, Adam B. Dionne, Mark K. Doherty, Sinead K. Dolan, Brigid S. Donoghue, Caroline F. Dorfman, Kaylee P. Ellis, Margaret C. Farley, Kevin F. Feeny, Benjamin E. Forrester, Nicole M. Gardner, Sarah E. Gavin, Matthew R. Glassman, Brenden R. Glynn, Matthew P. Gubbins, Jacob C. Guthrie, Nicholas J. Harold, Alan J. Healy, Tyler J. Hempel, Justin J. Howard, Erin D. Husebo, Cierra L. Kennedy, Carly M. Kingsbury, Sarah E. LaRiviere, John S. Lawrence, Cian A. Loftus, Kellianne L. Mahoney, Alexis V. Manchuk, Sage P. McCormick, Trevor J. McDonald, Cassandra M. McKay, Cassidy C. McNally, Meghan D. McNulty, Peter R. Melehan, Grace M. Melillo, John T. Melillo, Curtis L. Merritt, Eve L. Mitchell, Victoria I. Mondello, William L. Mone, Sophie H. Nadolny, Allegra R. Netherwood, Brianna M. Newell, Olivia C. Noonan, Kerry E. O’Brien, Maeve J. O’Neil, Noelle P. Ostrowski, Anna N. Paradise, Benjamin M. Piers, Kyle C. Reardon, Michael C. Richard, German A. Rieckehoff-Strong, Dwight A. Robinson, Lyla A. Ruzzo, Emma C. Ryan, Henry J. Ryan, Kathryn E. Sanders, Alex J. Scott, Mary P. Sullivan, Isabella M. Sweeney, Ebsen P. Sylvestre, Justin L. Turbeville, Kathryn O. Walsh, Ian T. Washburn, Elias W. Way, Hadley A. Whalen, Aiden N. White, Victoria M. Whitney, Olivia R. Williams

Nautical Traditions of Sturgis Graduation

Sturgis 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 and led by Paul Marble along with bagpiper Robert Ferguson, 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 ship’s bells and an occasional blast from a ferry’s horn.

Sturgis West Ship’s Log Bound by Talin Bookbindery

Signing the Ship’s Log

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 Paul Marble, Executive Director

Sturgis West Class of 2018, Parents, Faculty, Board of Trustees, Relatives, & Friends: today is a momentous day.

Ninety-five Sturgis West seniors – soon to be graduates – sit behind me, expectantly.  They are nearing the end of one journey, about to embark on another, and for the last time each of these ninety-five people will be an active part of this special group – the class of 2018.

We gather here near the edge of the ocean on a beautiful June day – the sky is blue, the grass is green and the air is pleasant – and listen to people who care deeply about Sturgis and each other. We see the looks on graduates’ faces when they are handed their well-earned diplomas. We bask in the pride, joy, and love on the faces of those who came here to celebrate. All of this feels quite momentous to me.

As our soon-to-be-graduates are IB students, they may have held that statement – today is a meaningful day – up to closer scrutiny: “But, Mr. Marble, how do you know it is a momentous day” for us?

Katie Walsh Receives her Diploma

I assume so based on what many of you wrote in your graduation speeches. You see, parents and friends, we have a custom at Sturgis that every senior writes a graduation speech, and a committee of faculty chooses the two speeches that are most evocative of our Sturgis beliefs and values to be given at graduation; you will hear from Victoria Mondello and Maggie Farley, shortly. I have had the pleasure of reading all the speeches, and I would like to continue our custom of sharing select passages from these speeches with you today.

When I call your name, please stand while I read your words aloud:

From Katie Walsh: Good Morning Sturgis West faculty, students, friends and parents. When I first received the Google Classroom notification at midnight labelled “Senior speech assignment,” I chuckled to myself. I thought about how for the past four years Google Classroom has caused me more heart attacks than necessary. Google Classroom loves to send random reminders for due dates at 12:01am the day the work is due. As you can imagine this was not at all helpful.

Caitlyn Davis

From Caitlyn Davis: In my freshman year was tasked with completing a project for my English class where I created a new book cover for the choice summer reading book. Being the naïve freshman that I was, I omitted the important part of the project by mistake; the write-up. As you can predict,without the real meat of the assignment to hand in, I received a 40 percent on my project. Yeah, it was pretty stupid. But my teacher, Ms.Ferguson who scared me a lot but I respected, gave me a second chance. And a third. Then finally, I received a 100 percent on my final edit. Even within the first month of Sturgis, I began to see that all the teachers here genuinely want you to succeed. I think that’s a really important piece of our high school experience that I know I wouldn’t have if I didn’t attend Sturgis. There will always be people in our lives who want us to get pushed farther away from our goals. But at Sturgis, our goals are also our teacher’s goals. Sturgis raises us to be someone who genuinely cares about those around them. This lesson is just as important as those we learned in our classes because it is applicable to everything in our lives. High school isn’t just about becoming an adult; it’s about becoming a good adult.

From Ludjy Butter: Good Morning. Thank you all for joining us on this beautiful/cloudy day. First I would like to thank Ms. Racine for making me write an outline for this speech, because without it, there probably would have never been a speech. As she held her head in her hands, she said, “Good heavens, have I taught y’all nothing?” That’s when I knew that we had to go back to basics.

Tyler Hempel

From Tyler Hempel: What makes Sturgis so special? I think it’s quite a strange feeling to be the one giving a speech in front of everyone. After all, four years ago I thought I might always be the weird one, the odd one out. In a way, maybe I still am, but I don’t feel like an outsider anymore. I also don’t think that I am alone in this sentiment. Many of us walked into school on that first day – Wednesday, August 27, 2014 – with a clean slate, an empty outline to be colored in over the next four years of our lives. I hope that I’m not alone, in saying with wholehearted honesty, that I finally had an opportunity to be who I am.

I finally felt a feeling of community, a feeling of actual empathy, and a mutual understanding for the uniqueness of each individual. The secret ingredient in the relative success of Sturgis Southwest was not a stroke of luck or excellent coordination; the secret ingredient was community. I won’t go as far as to say that we are all friends, because I think that the definition of friend holds with it a lot of room for interpretation. However, I always felt this sense of community from the first days of freshman years, to these final weeks of senior year. We all felt as though we were in this together, throughout the weirdness of having a school without a cafeteria, without a gymnasium, without an auditorium. We shared that experience and we made it our own.

The point that I want to stress, beyond these feelings of finally having a real identity, is that of Sturgis as people, rather than a school. I’ll be one of the first people in line to tell you that the International Baccalaureate might not be all that it is advertised as.However, I’ll also be one of the first people in line to tell you what s positive impact Sturgis as a whole has had on my life. It’s about a way of thinking, a way of thinking yhat both promotes the individual and promotes a distinct awareness of the collective. Sturgis reminded me in so many ways of the impact that we ourselves have on those around us.

Brenden, Owyn & Forrest

From Brenden Glynn: Another piece of Sturgis that I want to take along with me throughout my life, are the memories. This class was made up of truly individual students unlike anyone who has passed through these halls. The distinctiveness of each person graduating today can be summarized by a junior year history class. Mr. Beard was embarking on his first year of teaching history at Sturgis West. He was unfamiliar with most of the students and of course was looking for methods to familiarize himself with our class. As a way to put names to faces, Mr. Beard began to survey the room and ask each individual person their name which he would then copy onto the board.

He had first asked me, and so I said my name… “Brenden”. As he wrote my name out letter by letter, I knew he would make the same mistake that so many teachers had before. Promptly I advised to him that my name actually ended in an “-en” as opposed to an “-an”. He quickly erased the misspelled ending, corrected it, and continued down the line of students. Next up was Owyn Adams. Mr. Beard yet again began to spell out the name on the board as he typically would have. But Owyn too halted the writing by stating his name was actually spelled “O-w-y-n”. The new history teacher slightly raised an eyebrow, but nonetheless continued down the chain of students. He called on the next person in line… “My name’s Forrest”. Mr. Beard hesitated for a second and stared. But of course, Forrest reassured him: “Like those areas that have an abundance of trees… Forrest”. Yet again, Mr. Beard wrote the name down and continued down the line. A bit frustrated, Mr. Beard called out “who’s next?”. From the back of the room came a warm and confident shout… “Butter”. Consequently, Mr. Beard let the marker fall from his hand with the overarching assumption that the class had conspired to mess with his system. But those of course were our real names.

Ian Washburn

From Ian Washburn: The experience that I have had that encapsulates what it is like to be a Sturgis student the best, was our involvement in the NASA DIVER challenge. Ms. Most one day came to a group of us and introduced the challenge she had seen online, and asked if any of us were interested. There was no incentive to take part in this challenge, no extra credit, no monetary price, nothing whatsoever. To top it off it wasn’t even a chemistry based challenge, the subject that we were students of Ms. Most for. With all this in consideration, the four of us, Adam Dionne, Kevin Feeny, Spencer Lawrence, and I, accepted without hesitation. The challenge was as follows: design an object that will float on the surface of water, but submerges into the water when experiencing micro-gravity. Confused? So were we when we first heard it. To explain it simply, how can you make stuff sink in space? We were all excited to participate in this challenge, it was like nothing we had ever done before. Even though the results of the competition did not entirely matter, the pressure was still on. There were doubts of how we could possibly compete with teams that had access to 3D printers, and physics professors as team leaders. All we had was whatever Spencer had in his garage, and a Chemistry teacher to cheer us on….

….After waiting an entire summer while the tests were done and results being formulated, we finally received an email from the competition. We had done way better than we had ever thought we could, 2nd place. Our ragtag team, with extremely limited resources managed to place 2nd in the nation. I believe I can speak for all of us and say this was the most exciting moment of our lives. We were invited to attend the ASGSR meeting in Seattle, Washington where we presented our work. The best week of our lives. This brings me to my point. This entire competition embodies the Sturgis spirit and shows what it does for you. Sturgis enabled a group of students to win a nation wide competition for which they have no preparation or ease of doing. Putting in the work and critically thinking about the problems ahead of us unlocked an opportunity that we would never had gotten to experience without it.

Isabella Sweeney signs out of the Ship’s Log

From Isabella Sweeney: As I reflect over the past four years, I try to pinpoint what defines the Sturgis West graduating class of 2018. Winning color wars two years in a row, staying in the slounge until one minute before class starts, and tripping up the atrium stairs all initially rushed into my mind. However, the more I reflected, the more I realized that the activity that sets the 2018 graduating seniors apart from any other grade at Sturgis in my opinion is four square.  While four square began as a light game at Sturgis, it quickly became aggressive and serious, yet still fun. During the fall and spring, my peers and I would rush outside on a nice day during break and lunch to play foursquare on the concrete. While often a distraction to the other grades trying to learn, four square became a “norm” at Sturgis. Sophomore year, many members of the class played four square for the entire afternoon during field day, and even created a rule book due to the intense nature of the game. A junior friend of mine even commented, “Wow, your grade is way too over competitive.” In my opinion our competitive attitudes reveal the pleasure and care the senior class has for foursquare. As many of the teachers can probably agree, especially Ms. McDowell, the graduating class of 2018 often had trouble focusing on a given assignment. Despite this classroom struggle, I can confidently say that the class of 2018 can diligently play foursquare.

Kerry O’Brien

From Kerry O’Brien: At Sturgis, through the IB curriculum, it is very important to look at different perspectives. In english we read works translated from different languages, in history we study both traditionalist and revisionist historians, and of course in TOK we attempt to understand the bias that we hold and look at real life situations and events we different perspectives. Many had the ability to travel abroad and experience these different backgrounds in reality through our EF tours or World Challenge trips. With these experiences, both in and out of the classroom, we are now able to look at the world as a beautiful whole, but also appreciating each different culture. Speaking of culture, I think that I should probably talk about Sturgis’s culture. Our lack of athletic and theatrical facilities only left us four hallways worth of room to fill with school spirit. And when we showed that spirit those hallways almost caught fire with energy. Oh wait that was us almost burning the school down by hanging toilet paper to lights trying to decorate our hallway.

Sophie Nadolny

And, finally, from Sophie Nadolny: By the end of these four years at Sturgis Charter Public School, at the west campus of course, we have all shared a glimpse of our intelligence, we have had the opportunities to develop as individuals, and we have had the ability to be worldly scholars. It is our turn to prove to the world and prove to ourselves that after these four years of rigorous IB work we are ready to grow. We are no longer terrified by foreign experiences. We are ready to widen our horizons. We are excited to share ourselves with the world. We deserve to see the world, see new cultures, and help out the people around the world. I cannot wait to see where every student who is a part of this class ends up. Congratulations to the class of 2018! We did it! Now let’s continue to grow!


To my initial claim: today is a momentous day, I now add the rationale: because today is a culmination of the past four years where we have all chosen to live, think, and gather with great intentionality, care, and reflection. Students, faculty and family have made our collective Sturgis experience momentous, and today is a day to celebrate in that accomplishment.

Catherine Yates and Kristine May congratulate Pete Richenburg

Just as all our seniors are graduating, so, too, are many of our faculty about to embrace their own new opportunities. I would like for the following faculty to please stand so that we can show our appreciation for their commitment to our mission and our students:

Truc Bui, Alex Houpert, Sarah Martinez, Beverly Racine, Andrea Siaflas, and Jennifer Walts, please stand.

I would also like to celebrate a long-serving colleague retiring this year who has been a wonderfully caring and colorful ambassador for our mission and a great role model for our students: Peter Richenburg, please stand.

Sturgis West class of 2018, congratulations, and thank you for choosing to see the best in each other and for making the most of yourselves. I hope that you always carry Sturgis in your hearts.


West Senior Vocalists Perform “For Good” from Wicked


Sturgis Faculty – Maxanne Most, Chemistry

Maxanne Most

Thanks to the graduating class of Sturgis West 2018 for this (undecided adjective) honor. Those of you who took IB chemistry have been through quite a roller coaster ride with me and those of you who didn’t take chemistry still had sophomore chemistry with me and after that managed to find your way to my room on many occasions so we’ve spent some time together over the last 3 years. I guess I should be flattered that you have chosen to grant me my “15 minutes of fame” to offset a very pleasant lifetime of anonymity. Ever heard the saying about “no good deed goes unpunished!”

When I was in high school everyone was required to take a speech class, we had to write a series of speeches and then present them in front of the class – when it came time for the final speech – I think it was supposed to be a 5 minute speech on any  subject you wanted – I faked sick and stayed home from school that day. So now here I am a couple of decades later (more or less) staring karma right in the face. You never know where you are going to end up in life.

Trying to write this speech got me to thinking about my high school graduation and, honestly, about all I remember is that we marched in to Pomp and Circumstance wearing pale blue gowns even though our school colors were black and red. And that’s about all I remember. Talking about writing this speech with Mr. Pace, he reminded me that he had said the same thing in his speech – he did not remember who spoke at his graduation either. How many people here remember their high school graduation speakers? So I guess I don’t have to worry too much about what I say because no one here will remember.

Because at this point in my life I have found myself teaching chemistry (not something I ever planned on doing) I thought I would tell a story about chemistry.

In 1856 a 17 year old British chemistry student named William Henry Perkin was home for his Easter holiday.  Being a dedicated chemist, he used his vacation time to do some research. He was trying to find a way to produce quinine (the only known cure for malaria at that time) from coal tar. Coal tar is the sludge left behind when coal is burned at high temperatures. Perkin tried many different ways to synthesize quinine.  After one set of experiments, Perkin was washing out the black goo left behind in his test tube and he noticed a beautiful purple color clinging to the sides of his test tube. Thinking to dissolve the purple substance, he added some alcohol to the test tube and wiped it out with a rag. What he ended up with was a beautifully died piece of purple fabric.  He also ended up excited. He wasn’t the first chemist to develop a colorful dye from coal tar, but he was the first chemist to think that something useful might be made from it.

Maxanne Addresses the Class of 2018

And so Perkin’s pretty purple color, like a pebble dropped in a pond, started a series of ripples that went around the world. Perkin became the first artificial dye manufacturer. He built his dye manufacturing process from the ground up and he was very successful.  His innovations led to other developments in manufacturing. His color purple became Queen Victoria’s favorite color. He and others went on to develop all the colors of synthetic dyes we now use.

With the creation of synthetic dyes, the growers of the plants that had previously been used for dyes could now plant food crops and provide more food for the rapidly growing population of that time. Chemists went wild looking for other compounds that could be synthesized from coal tar and the whole field of organic chemistry was begun. Perkin’s dyes were used to stain previously invisible microbes and bacteria which in turn enabled scientists to identify tuberculosis, cholera and other disease causing bacteria. The ripple effect from Perkin’s discovery went on and on.

In the late 1800’s a chemist at a German dye manufacturing plant synthesized a compound called acetylsalicylic acid. My chemistry students should remember the common name given to that compound. The name of the company was Friedrich Bayer and Company and the compound was called aspirin.

Other products continued to be developed from coal tar and they were much less expensive than when derived from plants. Paints, solvents, perfumes, detergents, anesthetics, adhesives, the list goes on and on, all because one man made a compound with an appealing purple color.

Graduates applaud Ms. Most

And the ripple effect of Perkin’s discovery continued: not always in a positive direction – Perkin’s process was only about 40% efficient, the remaining 60% of the coal tar left over from the process was discarded as waste.  It was said that residents in the towns where the dye manufacturing plants were located knew what color was being produced that day because the river would be the same color as the dye. The waste from the manufacturing was dumped anywhere, usually into rivers or open pits. And so, industrial pollution was “invented” if you want to call it that.

The ripple effect continued, like ripples in the pond, spreading in ever widening circles: people started getting sick. In one of the first ever experiments to link industrial pollution to hazardous effects in wildlife, fish were placed in cages at various points along the Rhine River in Germany. Not surprisingly, the fish placed downstream of the manufacturing plants died. By the end of the 1800’s it was noted that workers in the dye factories had high instances of bladder cancer. In the 1920’s European corporations started to move their manufacturing plants to the United States.

The ripples from Perkin’s discoveries continued to spread: In 1962 Rachel Carson published her book, Silent Spring. In 1969 the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted that it caught fire. April 22, 1970 the Environmental Protection Agency was created and the ripples from this story go on and on.

So what was the point of this story? From my perspective as a chemistry teacher it was to emphasize the role chemistry plays in human history, the role that gets overlooked all to often when learning history.  From the perspective of this being a graduation speech – a very long winded way to point out to you that no action happens in isolation. Everything we do starts a ripple effect. Flush the toilet and you have the ripple effect (literally and figuratively) – where did the water come from, where does the wastewater go? One person flushes, not a very big impact: 325 million people in the United States flush and that makes for some pretty large ripples. Facebook and all the other social media all use the ripple effect deliberately, one person starts something on a social media website and it goes on and on.

So again – the point of all this is to remind you to think about everything you do, raise yourselves to a higher level of conscientiousness – every choice has consequences and those consequences ripple on and on. The ripples from William Henry Perkin’s discovery went further and in more different directions than anyone could have predicted.

There is a quote from a book called the Mirrors of Merlin by T. A. Barron that really sums up what I wanted to say: “… while you may not prevail in your own time and place, your efforts will flow outward as ripples on a pond. ….they may touch faraway shores, altering their destinies long after you have gone.”

So that’s enough of all this speech making. I apologize to the students – they wanted me to get up here and “roast” them and be funny. But it’s hard to replicate the kind of trusting environment that we had in our cozy little chem lab when you are standing under a tent talking to 400 or so people and when I need to have a job for the next few years so, sorry no roasting.

What I will say is how much fun I have had with all of you: whether it was playing four-square – which was much more fun than teaching chemistry, blowing up dry ice pipette bombs, traveling to Seattle, the Bahamas, Belize or North Carolina. Whether it was finding notes stuck to my desk, or my computer and all the other places you stuck notes and used up all my chemical labels. Whether it was wondering where you were when you didn’t come back to class after getting a drink of water, or wondering whose class you were escaping from when you came to my room and you weren’t supposed to be there. And even though there have been many times when I couldn’t wait for all of you to graduate, you have all become very special to me and teaching all of you has been a unique experience. There was more than one kind of chemistry going on in our classes!

I will miss you and as soon as graduation is over you can send me your facebook friend requests or instagrams or snapchats or whatever else there is and I will accept them, well most of them!

In the words of Douglas Adams: so long and thanks for all the fish. In the words of Woody Guthrie: so long it’s been good to know you. In the words of Jerry Garcia: what a long strange trip it’s been. And in the words of my hero, Mr. Spock: To the graduating class of Sturgis West 2018 – peace, live long and prosper.


Sturgis Class of 2018 – Tori Mondello

Wow. We seniors have probably had a countdown to this day since we first arrived. It’s hard to believe it’s finally here. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not going to actually believe I’ve graduated until I arrive on my college campus. But the truth is, we’re done with high school. We’re done with Sturgis. Maybe you’re ecstatic to leave, maybe you’re not. Whatever you’re feeling, push it aside. All that matters is that we’re here now and we’re gonna sign out of the log book and listen to Livvy ring the bell.

When we first came to this school, we each signed our name on the left side of that paper and rang the bell, as a symbol of our new commitment. When I heard that only the last person rings the bell at graduation, I questioned it. But after much reflection (you’re welcome Ms. McDowell), I actually prefer it that way. We arrived as individuals. Sure, most of us came with a group of friends, but we weren’t melded into the school culture yet. Now, four years later, we’ve become more of a unit. We are not the individual students of 2018. We are the class. So, the class writes their names, and after, the bell is rung. If you think about it, it’s kind of the same ceremony as before.

If I had to use one word to describe my time at Sturgis it would be: unexpected. Little freshman Tori would not even recognize the senior standing here today. And that’s good. School is about growth. Sure, teachers may focus on academics, but the true test of school is exploring who you are as a person, discovering what you like, who you like, and what you want to do with the rest of your life. That’s a pretty daunting task, yet here we are. I doubt any of us could have predicted four years ago the person we are today.

My first unexpected moment at Sturgis came at Camp Burgess in freshman year, sitting on the lawn, sharing our first laugh as a class, as Nikki Gardner announced she had just found an almond in her nectarine. On that day, I knew that old saying was true: You truly do learn something new every day. Whether it’s factoring an equation, declining a latin noun, or even that almonds can reside in the pits of some fruits, each bit of knowledge I’ve gained has shaped me into who I am.

Our time at Sturgis has been unexpected in a number of ways, many of them kind of silly. From having theatre class at a bar to winning Color Wars two years in a row to bringing home Crimson the crayfish in freshman year, our class is known for its unexpected adventures. But we’ve also grown into more mature unexpectedness. Nobody expected this little school on Cape Cod to hold multiple protests throughout the year. But if you think about it, why wouldn’t we? These teachers have ingrained the IB Learner Profile into our blood. Two very important traits are open mindedness and risk taking. These protests, although unexpected, fit these traits to a tee. Having the open-mindedness to have discussions about issues like DACA and school shootings was a big step for our class. It’s funny that we couldn’t handle a simple email thread without fighting, yet we were mature enough to talk about these worldly issues. And the risks involved with these experiences is impressive.

Through these risks, we support each other. We cheered Butter on the day she spoke at the March for Our Lives. We cheered on for the theatre group as we opened our performance of Detective Sketches. Senior nights in sports are always packed with dedicated fans. Awards night is a culmination of pride as we see our fellow classmates receive recognition for their hard work. Despite our differences, we’re always there to cheer each other on. This continues into the small things, too. In school, our class has been one of the most expressive. We have a Gay Straight Alliance that hosts diversity events throughout the year. We created EPIC, a club dedicated to diversity and empowering people to create change. We excel in golf and our field hockey team has maintained a solid streak of tied games all season. Will they win or lose? Nobody knows! After today, some of us are going to college, some of us are taking a gap year, others are going straight into the workforce. Through all of these differences, the class of 2018 welcomes all walks of life with curiosity and excitement. Even now, at graduation, we are missing a crucial member of our class due to her religious obligations. We didn’t handle that with ridicule or anger, but rather, planned a separate ceremony for her, so she too can experience graduation at its fullest. Our class not only understands open-mindedness, we embrace it.

When we sat in the atrium in freshman year, listening to Mr. Heiser speak to us about the years to come, we had no idea how we would develop. We couldn’t anticipate us being so close, making the friends we did, or choosing the college and the life that we have. We couldn’t predict the relationships we would form with teachers, the flood in Junior year, traveling across the world, or any of our past endeavors. And even as I speak to you today, I could tell you that college will be great, working will be great, life will be great. But as Sturgis has taught me: nothing ever develops as we expect it. So maybe you’ll pass all of your classes and graduate with a 4.0. Or maybe you’ll drop out of school and find a job you love that you never would have imagined otherwise. Maybe you’re going to fall in love with the theatre program at med school and completely change your course. That’s all okay. We know first hand now not to fear the unexpected, but to embrace it. So now, I’ll leave you with a quote from Harry Banks, a man I’d never heard of until I google searched for cheesy graduation quotes:  Harry Said, “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.”

So, class of 2018, my peers, friends, and future bosses: Are we ready for our next misstep?


William H. Burke Award – Jenn Kirk, Sturgis West Principal

Kam Barrows, 2018 Recipient of the William H. Burke Award

The William H. Burke scholarship is given to one Sturgis West graduating senior who exhibits an entrepreneurial spirit, contributes positively to the community, is concerned with the well-being of others, and whose determination and tenacity helped them overcome obstacles.

An entrepreneurial spirit can be defined as a mindset. It is an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It is a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.

This year’s recipient for the William H. Burke scholarship is an individual who truly has this mindset and attitude.  She has demonstrated time and time again her passion for growing the awareness of members of our school community and the broader community, too.  In her work as a founding member of the EPIC club (empowering people, inspiring change) and the Civil Rights Group, she has worked on finding ways to have meaningful dialogue on issues of inequity.

Jenn Kirk presents the Burke Award to Kam

She has embraced critical questioning and has sought to encourage discussions with respect.  To that end, she collaborated with students and faculty to serve our community by bringing a speaker to Sturgis to speak about the Cape’s little known history of being involved in the slave trade this Spring.  From the IB Learner Profile, she practices good listening skills, which are essential for respectful dialogue. She is dedicated to making our Sturgis community and local community more equitable.

She tackles challenges that she faces with determination, resourcefulness and intellect.  I am pleased to present the William H. Burke Scholarship recipient for 2018, Kamryn Barrows.


Sturgis Faculty – Sarah Martinez, Chemistry

Sarah Martinez Addresses the Class of 2018

Good Morning, Parents, friends, colleagues, dignified members of the board and of course, the Sturgis West graduating Class of 2018.

A few weeks ago, Mr Rich came to me and said…Hold on, can we give a special congratulations to Mr. Pete Richenburg! He’s retiring after over a decade of sharing his love of art with Sturgis students!

Like I was saying, before going on maternity leave, Mr. Rich came up to me and said “Rumor has it the seniors are voting for you to speak at graduation”.

That’s great!! I replied. He looked at me in disbelief: “You want to speak at graduation?”

Not even a brand new baby at home could keep me from addressing you today. Because early on in freshman year, it became apparent to me that you all and I were going to have a special relationship. I started to think of a lot of you like younger siblings. That’s why, when Ben Forrester labeled me the Class of 2018 “school mom” only a few weeks into freshman year,

I was not OK with it. Mom? At the ripe age of 28 I wasn’t ready to be a mom and what the heck even was a school mom? I had no idea…But over the next four years, I learned.

Like freshman year, when “Yeet” was a thing. Yup! That’s right Parents, Y-E-E-T. I’m not sure if they did this at home, but they went around school screaming it, often… constantly. As ridiculous as yeet was, I learned that self expression is something a good school mom would never discourage. You guys wanna let out a yeet together one last time for good old times sake?

Sophomore year, I learned again what it meant to be a school mom during Spirit Week. I was honored to become your referee and class cheerleader once again. It was so much fun to encourage you to work together and share in your success. We all know who REALLY won spirit week sophomore year, and as far as I’m concerned, you guys are back-to-back-to-back Spirit Week champions.

Junior year, oh Junior year. We all lost it a little bit Junior year. The IB was crushing all of our souls (myself included- teaching it is just as hard as learning it!) and we were all starting to ponder the decisions we had made that led us to our current stressful circumstances like‘what was I thinking taking HL Bio?’ or ‘why did I think teaching 3 different classes would be a breeze?’. Junior year, I learned that being a good school mom meant holding it together and being strong for the people who depend on you, even when you’re falling apart yourself.

Senior year we caught our second wind! The IB was still overwhelming but manageable. We all balanced setting our sights on what was next, while trying (key word: trying) to remain in the moment. As senior year progressed, so did the circumference of my mid-section and you all, my ‘school children’ relied on me less. You needed less referee-ing, less cheerleading, less encouragement. You learned how to advocate for yourselves academically and handle your own social situations. And I learned, sometimes being a good school mom means stepping up when you’re needed, but stepping back when you’re not.

Your Sturgis experience and my Sturgis experience have paralleled in many ways. When we met, you were just starting your high school career and I was just starting my high school teaching career.

But now, we’re all moving forward with the knowledge we’ve accrued over the past four years. As corny as it sounds, despite being (one of) your school mom(s), I have learned much more from you guys than any of you have learned from me.

I’m going to take a page out of Executive Director Paul Marble’s book and ask you to please stand when I call your name.

From Jack Andre: Freshman year, I learned from you that people will show you the same amount of respect that you show them. Thank you Jack.

From Livvy Williams: I learned from you how important it is to relate yourself to literally everything. Making connections with as many people and experiences as possible will only result in personal growth. Thank you Livvy.

Mark Doherty: From reading your hilarious lab reports and punny science journal entries over the past two years, I learned the importance of seeing humor in the mundane. Thank you.

From everyone in E block biology freshman year: From all of you I learned that patience is a valuable commodity that accumulates after being pushed to the brink of insanity everyday. Thank you for pushing me.

From Matt Aguiar, I learned from you that your identity doesn’t need to be what other people think of you. You can define your own identity. You decide who you are. Thank you Matt.

There are countless more lessons I have learned from each and every one of you. And even if I didn’t call you out specifically just now, I want you all to know that collectively, you have taught me something that I could never express in a quick quip:

From the entire Class of 2018, I learned how to be a mom.

I could never thank you enough for that. Graduation speeches are supposed to be full of palpable advice and profound wisdom but I don’t have any of that, so I’m reverting to graduation speech cliche number two: quote someone great..

As a biology teacher, I get asked the same question frequently, regardless of if we’re describing cells or exploring ecology. Students always wonder if something hypothetical or theoretical could happen: like, could there be some crazy condition where women grow teeth in their ovaries? (p.s. the answer to that one is yes, I’m not even lying, google it!)

Regardless of the hypothetical scenario proposed, I always give the same answer, a quote from Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. And this quote is completely transferable to your once theoretical, now very much so real, life after Sturgis.

No matter how far fetched your goals may be, no matter how unfathomable your version of success may seem, remember what Jeff Goldblum said: “Life finds a way” Thank you all so much for four unforgettable years of learning. I love you guys! Now go find your way!


Sturgis Class of 2018 – Maggie Farley

Good Morning all,

Maggie Farley

Like many of the other graduates sitting behind me now, I was a kid whose parents were forcing, or as my parents like to say, “strongly encouraging” me to attend Sturgis. My parents insisted to “give it a week” because Sturgis is an “academic opportunity I did not want to give up,” was like nails on a chalkboard. I knew the only way to make it stop was by attending Sturgis in 9th grade. Honestly, I knew only two things about Sturgis at the time: that it was the best public school in Massachusetts and there was an open campus lunch. That was enough to convince me to give it a week. I did not think that I was going to make it out alive on my first day. I managed to drop all my papers on the main staircase, got lost a handful of times in our four hallway school, and was asked multiple times if I was Nikki Garder’s twin (just because we are both redheads). After this, I convinced myself that this was never going to be a place where I would fit in. This didn’t feel like High School Musical or Glee, and I wanted out. But I gave it a week as promised to my parents… and one week turned into a month, one month into a year.  One year turned into four, and here I am. Over this time, the clichéd high school experience was not something I needed to let go of, but something I wanted to let go. Sturgis taught me so many lessons that I didn’t even know I needed to learn, like realizing that I needed to abandon the artificial and fabricated high school experience to begin to build my own one.

And now, here we are, today. 720 school days, 5,040 hours in the classroom, and 1,009 days since the first day of 9th grade. Since we started as 9th graders, a lot has happened over the course of four years. Tom Brady set the record for most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback. The United States Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriage. Vine was deleted. America witnessed a solar eclipse. In school, we all survived the IB curriculum, spent two weeks living the suite life of Southwest at the Conference Center, the class of 2018 won spirit week two years in a row, an honorable amount of foursquare was played, and we stood by each others sides as we all grew up to become the people we are today. A lot has happened, but like any change, it was hard in the beginning, blurry in the middle, and bittersweet at the end.

Writing this speech, I tried to find the defining moment that changed my attitude towards Sturgis, but there wasn’t just one. Reflecting on the past 4 years now, it is the little moments and lessons that made my high school experience what it was. And now, these little moments do not seem so little, as they are the ones that made the biggest impact on my heart.

Ms. Most telling our Chemistry class “I can’t wait for you guys to be long gone!” but knowing as she explained an answer for the 99th time, and telling us not to be afraid to ask again for the 100th time, that she really wanted us around to ask 100 more questions.

Teacher John being the first person to show me that I did not need anyone else’s validation to determine my own worth.

Walking into my freshmen Biology class with Ms. Martinez and knowing if we somehow got her on a tangent about horseshoe crabs we wouldn’t have to do much for the rest of the period.

Profe Bonilla’s unbelievable talent to know what we were trying to say, but not actually saying it in Spanish.

Being able to talk to everyone in our grade, whether they were in all your classes or none of them at all.

Being told to go to class 3 minutes before it started, and all of the seniors showing that they could easily make it to the classroom in 30 seconds or less.

Kickball freshmen year in the pouring rain. A day that not only brought mud and wetness to our bodies when still had half a school day left, but also one of the first moments that brought the freshmen class together.

These are just a fraction of the moments and people that have made this adventure such a special experience. We are so privileged to go to a school with teachers who are passionate about what they are teaching and who care immensely about each one of their students. The student body is one who not only accepts one another, but also lifts each other up. We are a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I am so happy to be standing here now, in front of friends, family, faculty, and staff, declaring to my parents; thank you for your “strong encouragement” to go to Sturgis. Sturgis  was one of the best things that has happened to me. Looking back, I would slap my 14 year old self in the face for ever thinking that I was “above” Sturgis, or that these kids “weren’t my type of people.” I realize now that I only thought this way because I was comfortable where I was before, but by taking a risk and going into unfamiliar territory, I grew more than I ever imagined I would. Like many others, I became more confident in myself. I discovered that it is not nerdy, but cool, to be passionate about what interests you. Lastly, I learned that the best kind of people are the ones who are unapologetically themselves.

As previously stated, it was difficult for me to find my defining moment at Sturgis. I realize now, this may be because Sturgis was a defining moment. This place inspired me to take whatever the world hands me, and to make the best of it. I know that the class of 2018 is one that will step out of their comfort zones to make this world a better place.

Thank you all for such a great 4 years. I am sure many of you will agree that there were some mornings it seemed impossible to get out of bed and be motivated to come to school. Like Daryl from The Office once said “everyday I came into work, all I wanted to do was leave. So why in the world does it feel so hard to leave right now?” And it is because of all of you. Thank you for your time and I wish you all the best.



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