Royal Palm Beach High School sent more than 500 graduating seniors out into the world Monday evening during commencement exercises at the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center.
Principal Jesus Armas thanked parents and guardians for their support.
“Thank you for your support of your children, especially these four years of high school,” Armas said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to educate your child.”
He also thanked the leaders of feeder schools, several of whom were sitting on the stage, for preparing their students well for high school. He also thanked Palm Beach County School Board Member Marcia Andrews for her support, as well as village officials and the faculty at Royal Palm Beach High School.
Palm Beach County School District Chief Academic Officer Keith Oswald said district students will earn more than $110 million in scholarships and head off to colleges near and far.
“Others will enter the workforce by using certifications they have earned right here by attending Royal Palm Beach High School,” Oswald said. “Others will enter the armed forces to protect our freedoms.”
Oswald said setting the right goals is one of the most important things a student can do.
“During the process of goal-setting, you have to answer one of the most profound questions: What do I want for my life?” he said. “Too many individuals underestimate the positive effect that goal-setting can have.”
Oswald also stressed persistence, taking care of family and friends and being kind to others.
“There is a lot of hatred in this world,” he said. “We are so consumed by our day-to-day lives that we don’t take enough time to show kindness. Kindness is contagious. When you show kindness to someone, it can spread.”
Salutatorian Jessica Gostinski said graduating from high school is often the first major accomplishment in a person’s life. She thanked everyone who helped the Class of 2015 get there.
“It took a lot of perseverance, but we finally did it,” Gostinski said. “Today is also a day to consider our futures. After tonight, all of us are going to go our separate ways. From here on out, we are responsible for our own choices. It is true that everyone makes mistakes, but wherever we want to find ourselves, using that fact is no excuse to be careless and throw caution to the wind.”
Valedictorian Zerin Islam said she owed a lifetime of thanks to all her teachers, family and friends for helping her achieve what she has.
“Everyone has a story; actually, many stories all jumbled up into our lives,” Islam said. “Many of us here, after having had our respective journeys, there are so many of these stories that we never before realized are a part of our lives and who we are and who we’ve become.”
She said she will always remember the influence of special teachers who helped her along the way.
“They’re my mentors, advisors, pillars of support, and above all, some of the greatest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet,” Islam said. “I also feel extremely honored to have made such amazing friends here. It should be no surprise that they are the reason my smile is so infamously permanent.”
She said graduation is a bittersweet moment, but now she and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to reach greater heights and use what they learned in high school as a foundation for their futures.
Armas said that in a few minutes, he would declare that the RPBHS Class of 2015 had successfully completed the requirements to graduate.
“This time of year, thousands of students across our great nation are hearing the word ‘success’ at graduation,” he said, which is defined as accomplishing an aim or purpose, or the attainment of popularity or profit.
“If you ask people how they define success, you will get a huge array of answers,” he said. “Booker T. Washington defined success as the obstacles which a person overcomes. Maya Angelou defines success as liking what you do and liking how you do it. Football coach Vince Lombardi defines success as winning. It seems that success is truly in the eyes of the beholder.”
Armas reflected on the successes of the past year at RPBHS, such as the media room being open for an entire week without being closed for testing.
“The truth is, I see success all over at Royal Palm Beach High School,” he said, drawing attention to the efforts and achievements of numerous students and faculty.
“I’m talking about students who represent every walk of life and every organization on this campus coming together in unity to raise money for charity and having old-fashioned fun,” Armas said. “I see success in a faculty that now boasts nine alumni. I see success at our football games, not just on the field when our team is winning a district championship, but rather after the game they stand side-by-side with helmets and pompons held high as our band plays our alma mater and our school comes together with pride. ”
Armas said he also saw success on the stage that night with school district personnel and leaders of the Royal Palm Beach community coming together to make Royal Palm Beach High School a beacon for the community.
“Back in August, I told you that whatever Royal Palm Beach High School is, it is because you have made it so,” he said. “I believe you have been truly successful these past four years.”