Nerves don’t deter North Class of 2016

MANCHESTER – Nashua High School North graduated the Class of 2016 at the Verizon Wireless Center on Sunday, when 369 Titans received their diplomas and walked toward whatever the future may hold.

Srilekha Vangavolu, 2016 class valedictorian, thanked the teachers and staff of NHSN, recalling the nervousness with which she started high school and the comfort with which she completed it.

"Four years later, that once-strange place has become my home, and I’ve met some amazing people along the way," she said. "As a whole, I think the Class of 2016 has persevered. There have been ups and downs to our journey, but we have overcome the obstacles."

Vangavolu reflected on how some of those obstacles – even the very large ones – were beneficial in the end.

"Oftentimes it is easy to get caught up in the bad times," she said. "But the ups and downs are what make the ride interesting, and without the downs, you can’t go up."

Class salutatorian, Darby O’Neil, echoed the nervousness Vangavolu remarked upon, but hers was more over the prospect of having to write and deliver a speech on Sunday.

"I joked with my twin sister, Rory, probably a little more seriously than she realized, about having her deliver the speech for me," she said. "Sadly, Rory declined my offer."

O’Neil went on to speak about how writing the speech itself seemed like a daunting task, until she realized the uncertainty she had about delivering her address was probably the same emotion most of her class was feeling about moving on from high school.

"I realized as I was struggling to find a template for this speech, that the struggle I was encountering was essentially the same struggle we will face in the days, months and years to come after graduation," she said.

"Before this point, our everyday life has been subscribed to us in specific schedules," she said. "Today marks the end of that set path. We have come to a crossroads with a million branches from which to choose, and we must now figure out how to live on our own terms and by our own choices, without a template to follow. The diversity of opportunities we have at our fingertips now is hinted at by the wealth of different paths our class is taking after graduation."

The class student speaker, Hanzla Sheikh, who was awarded the "Titan Pride Award," spoke of the journey to graduation day.

"My journey began 16 years ago, half a world away, in … Pakistan. That is when my father decided to bring our family here looking for a better life," he said."

"He returned from Pakistan, to be here today, and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for dedicating his life to making sure I got to this point. If I can become half the man he is, my life will have been a success."

The 2016 class president, Victoria Grady, addressed her class one last time before they received their diplomas.

"Stay hungry and stay foolish," she quoted Steve Jobs. "Congratulations, Class of 2016; I will miss you and wish you nothing but the best."

Matthew Medsger can be reached at 594-6531, or @Telegraph_MattM.