Infinite Potential: Hollis Brookline grads set off to help the world

HOLLIS – Hollis Brookline High School celebrated the graduation of 160-plus students Saturday morning during its annual commencement ceremony.

Dressed in blue gowns, the class of 2018 walked past parents, friends, family members and underclassmen as they made their way from the gymnasium to their seats outside on the lawn adjacent to the school.

“I know in every one of you, as graduating seniors, lies infinite potential, and I challenge you all as my last words to many of you, to find that special talent you have and to foster it and be the best you can be in your own special ways,” said Adam McQuilkin, president of the class of 2018.

He said this ceremony, as the cliche goes, isn’t the end of anything but rather only the beginning. He said after this, every choice his peers make is a choice they make alone, whether joining the military, pursuing higher education or embarking on other plans.

“To the underclassmen present, we as outgoing seniors have done our very best to leave behind a legacy of caring and compassion,” McQuilkin said. As my final request to you and these towns that we’ve called home, please give back wherever life brings you.”

Following his address, Andrew Corey, superintendent of schools, introduced Patrick Bloniasz to deliver the Student Body President’s Address.

“No matter if we cross paths again, we will always be able to meet up in those vast high school hallways in memory, as one big dysfunctional family who are now the latest graduates of Hollis Brookline High School,” Bloniasz said. “Thank you everyone, and congratulations to the class of 2018.”

Richard Barnes, Hollis Brookline principal, gave a congratulatory message before announcing the Top 10 students in the graduating class. He recounted hearing many students saying that this graduating class is a hard group to define.

“This year, that definition came into focus crystal clear to me. Class of 2018, you are in a word, champions,” Barnes said.

In concluding his congratulations, he acknowledged that as their time at Hollis Brookline High School draws to a close, they can rest assured knowing they’re at the threshold of a new beginning.

While moments away from embarking on that new beginning, Rebecca Ide said in her salutatorian address that after looking back on her experiences, she believes that failure itself doesn’t even matter, that it’s irrelevant.

“When you fail, all that matters is what you do next. There’s no need to be perfect,” Ide said.

Jacqueline Hale delivered the valedictorian address, sharing a personal story. In concluding her story she listed three things she’s come to realize, those being that, everyone has something they’re struggling with; people should keep an eye out to recognize blessings in disguise; and that we all have the ability inside of us to overcome


As the class of 2018 overcomes the obstacle of high school, with the many highs and lows it brings, Hale took to her seat as senior members of the Hollis Brookline High School Choir stood to sing “Mr. Blue Sky.” Once choir members returned to their seats, eager students and onlookers listened to one last address before diplomas were issued, the commencement address delivered by Rod Clark, head of the science department.

He challenges the class of 2018 as they leave to pursue their dreams and to lend a hand to others. With that, he left graduates with four words, “how can I help?” He advised them to use those four words often and courageously, recounting his own experiences.

After college, Clark was fortunate enough to be selected as a Peace Corps volunteer, and was assigned to teach math and science in Swaziland, Africa. He and 29 Americans had been selected that year to venture off to Africa, but first they all met in Philadelphia for training. It was in Philadelphia that those four words became so meaningful to him. Of those 29 fresh-faced Americans, one of them was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

“She was smart, confident, strong and full of life,” Clark said.

As those 29 volunteers completed their training and prepared to journey all the way to Africa, he came upon that beautiful girl from Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, waiting for their bus where she was surrounded by several pieces of fancy luggage.

He then summoned the courage to ask her those four words, “how could he help?”

“I proudly carried those bags to Africa and home two years later, and in two weeks she will let me carry her bags to Plum Island as we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.”

In regard to those four words Clark said, “They will make you a better friend, a better employee, a better spouse and a better parent. I know that the class of 2018 will share their many gifts to the world with joy, for this is why you’re here. You are and forever will be HB.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.