Marblehead seniors ready for the next step

The cars were parked on Humphrey Street in a seemingly endless line. The High School and Council on Aging lots were already filled to the brim by 5:30 p.m. Friday night, as hundreds flocked to the Fieldhouse to celebrate the Class of 2023.

The 216 graduates filed in promptly at 6:00 p.m. from the back, as the High School Concert Band played “Pomp and Circumstance” over the speakers. After the Concert Choir performed the national anthem, twin sisters and graduates Tamia Ruth and Tamya Marie Johnson took to the podium together to welcome everyone. They discussed the lessons they learned as METCO program students for nine years, and how their hard work brought them to their moment of accomplishment.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Buckey informed the crowd of the Class of 2023’s many achievements. He recapped athletic, community service, and extracurricular accomplishments. However, the graduating seniors’ academic statistics were at the forefront.

“This class has achieved a gold standard in academics,” Buckey said. “94% of these students will continue their education in two-year, four-year, and PG institutions as a result of submitting nearly 2,000 applications.”

After Class Vice President Zoe Spungin announced the class gift — a donation to the Forever Fan Zone at Piper Field — President Lucy Sabin delivered a heartfelt and humorous message, in which she compared Marblehead High School to a romantic partner.

“Let’s be honest, we only stayed together for the kids,” Sabin said sarcastically. “But look at us now, the bell has rung for the last time and we have to say goodbye.”

She previewed her next “relationship” with college, and assured MHS that it will treat her well.

Sabin was followed by a rendition of “River and Roads” by Luminescence and the Jewel Tones, the two a cappella groups at the school.

Salutatorian Catherine Trautman recapped impactful events that took place during her fellow graduates’ four years, including the COVID-19 pandemic during their freshman year, the football team’s triumph in the Division 3 Super Bowl their junior year, and having their senior prom at the House of Blues in Boston.

Trautman handed things off to Valedictorian Yasen Colón, who admitted the first paragraph of his speech was written by the artificial intelligence software ChatGPT. He used this to argue that AI can never replicate the human emotions he and his classmates feel for each other, and the bonds they have developed.

“Our class is built with the one thing an algorithm cannot replicate: personality,” Colón said. “A computer can’t laugh like we can, can’t cry like we can, can’t find comfort in each other like we can.”

The last person to share words was Principal Dan Bauer. Much like the Class of 2023, Friday marked the last day at Marblehead High for Bauer, who is departing the school to become the superintendent of Danvers  Public Schools.

However, instead of talking about himself, Bauer took time to thank everyone who contributes to the daily operation of Marblehead High including teachers, students, coaches, families, and custodians. He got emotional as he said his final goodbye to the school where he has been principal for the last seven years.

“Marblehead High School will always have a place in my heart,” Bauer said.

All that was left was the presentation of diplomas, as each student went up individually. The Concert Band then performed “Marblehead Forever” while the students paraded out as official high-school graduates.