A large crowd of families and friends gathered Friday, May 17 with excitement to watch Royal Palm Beach High School’s Class of 2019 walk in single file across the stage at the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center.
There was a roar of excitement for each one as more than 500 new graduates completed their high school careers and reached a new phase of their lives.
Superintendent Dr. Donald E. Fennoy II gave a commencement message that focused on being authentic. He told the graduates to immerse themselves in real relationships with connections to one another.
“What do you stand for?” Fennoy asked. “Be authentically you. Protect your brand, as this is more important today than any other time.”
The crowd cheered for Salutatorian Dylan Adams, who said it was an honor to address his fellow classmates. “It is my honor to be this year’s class of 2019 salutatorian and thank you for allowing me to speak before you tonight,” he said. “I would like to thank those who helped me along my journey and brought me to this moment. Thank you to my parents and family for providing the love and support I’ve needed the last 18 years.”
He went on to thank his girlfriend, Stefani Vassalotti and her family, his best friend Andrew Leslie, his many other friends and all of his teachers, including Daniella Suarez-Boyd, Daniel DiCurcio, Melissa Lorenz and others.
“Thank you to all of my teachers who never gave up on me and gave me all of the resources for success,” Adams continued. “And a special thanks to Mrs. Suarez-Boyd, who has always been there for me with support. She saw my leadership and academic potential, and she is always there to hear the latest drama. I’ll never forget what she has done for me. She will always be teacher of the year to me.”
He noted that achievement and accomplishment is often mixed with adversity.
“Each and every one of us has faced adversity and triumphed over each and every challenge life has thrown at us,” Adams said. “Whether it be losing a loved one, stress of an exam, competing to our heart’s content, we overcame adversity and achieved greatness. Cowards never start. The weak never finish. Winners never quit. Tonight, we are all winners.”
But one end also marks another beginning, he added.
“We have reached the goal we’ve been striving for since we walked in those doors four years ago,” Adams said. “Part of the journey is the end. But your journey isn’t over. No matter what you do, never give up, never lose that strive. I have no doubt that the Class of 2019 will change the world.”
Valedictorian Matthew Guerette gave his speech through a rap song called “Val Speech.” The excitement of the music had the graduates singing out, moving in beats and lightening up the room.
“Since I was young, I had a dream, I had to go and get it,” he sang. “My intuition telling me I got to strive for better.”
He went on to sing about a brighter future.
“Class of 2019, we’re about to graduate / Looking at the world I want my kids to know a better place / We the ones who gonna turn the tables and then make the change / I hope to God he hear me when I pray and ask for better days / We done been through hell and back so we can walk the stage,” he rapped.
Guerette’s song can be found in its entirety on SoundCloud by searching for “Val Speech.”
After the song was finished, Guerette spoke to the crowd.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank my mother and father for their endless love and support through this journey,” he said. “Thank you for providing me with the tools and knowledge needed for me to be up on this stage today, and for being excellent examples of hard work and persistence.”
Guerette went on to thank teachers Daniella Boyd, Dr. Deborah Fuchs, Virginia Stroke, Juan Lizcano, Cynthia Rosado, Nikki Lanier, Neil Hagans and the many others who impacted his career. He then turned his attention to his fellow graduates.
“Class of 2019, these past four years will remain with us forever,” he said. “Take with you the memories and a sense of pride in all you have accomplished. Keep striving for your dreams, and I wish you the best in all your future endeavors.”
After he finished, Principal Jesus Armas asked Guerette to stay at the podium. The principal began rapping, too. The two began to work the song on stage together, while the crowd cheered, rocking to the beat.