Student Government President: Emily Gazzaniga

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Emily Gazziniga, class president, urged her fellow graduates to "live passionately." — Jeremy Driesen

Good evening fellow classmates, peers, parents, faculty, and community members. Thank you all for being here to celebrate this momentous occasion. I feel honored to have the opportunity to speak before all of you today. 

When I was a kid, around five or six years old, I wrote a poem to myself about what I, at the time thought were the magical superpowers I possessed. Through my unclear first grade english, I wrote that I was put on earth for a purpose, that I had something unique to give (literal magic, to be exact, which was unfortunately not proved to be the case, thus far.) However, I felt even at a young age, that I was meant to achieve something. 

My greatest skill to date (besides making people feel guilty about drinking out of plastic) has been what I call ‘bottling’. Ironic, I know. For most of my young adult life, I have bottled up my strongest emotions, whether those be fear, anger, sadness, or joy, and have pushed them not only out of sight, but definitely out of mind. Over the past four years, there have been only a handful of times where I ditched the metaphorical bottle and basked in the uncomfortable feeling of my emotions. One of those times was Sophomore year when a video surfaced on my Instagram feed of an emaciated, malnourished polar bear struggling to find something to eat in a severely melted portion of Antarctica, a result of global warming. I immediately woke my mom up, balling my eyes out, feeling so powerless and so heartbroken. Some uplifting graduation message, huh? That video awoke a feeling in me and channeled the desire I had for purpose as a child into something tangible. I found a purpose in climate activism. 

I see much of my six year old self in the Class of 2020. I have never met a more dedicated, passionate, and optimistic group of students than all of you. During a time of extreme political division, heightened systemic racism, humanitarian crisis, and lack of social justice, we need influential people with passion and drive to advocate, petition, and make our voices heard. We need people like the MVRHS Class of 2020. We are comprised of athletes, academics, musicians, activists, leaders, dancers, fishermen, artists, and more, but what we all share is living with a purpose and standing up for what we believe in, regardless of the circumstance. 

Something I only dreamed of doing at age six. 

From our first interactions at STING to our unconventional graduation ceremony, I have grown so much as a student, a friend, a classmate, a daughter, and a person thanks to all of you and everything we have endured over the past four years. Caitlin McHugh taught me generosity and selflessness, Thomas Smith always made me smile, Pandora Bassett taught me how to love my flaws, Jaiden Edelman always had my back (which mostly included answering my frantic calls at 1 am when I realized I had procrastinated past the point of return), Lauren Pagliccia gave me kindness, Pat Ribero taught me how to do a proper tricep extension, Jack Holmes taught me how to sit back and take a deep breath, Maddy Tully made me strong, Jeremy Regan taught me to be scared of literally everything, Amelia Simmons taught me confidence, and Josh Sampaio taught me how to dance. The list is endless. I truly admire each and every one of you and wish our time together had not been cut short. 

My parting words to this class are this: Live passionately. Dedicate your time and spirit to something you deeply care about. Find your purpose in life, whatever that may be, and don’t ever lose sight of who you are, where you came from, or what you stand for. I have yet to rediscover those so-called magical superpowers I had as a child, but the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Class of 2020 uses them every day. I will miss you all greatly. Thank you.