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First graduating class for newly-regionalized Ayer-Shirley District

Nashoba Publishing/Mary Arata
Seniors in the Ayer-Shirley Regional High School Class of 2012 shifted their burgundy and white tassels to the left hand side of their mortarboards before launching them skyward.

AYER – “Let me be the first to say ‘congratulations,” said Class President Brent Routhier. Cheers erupted Friday night from the sea of students in burgundy and white caps and gowns – the first graduating class for the newly-regionalized Ayer-Shirley School District.

The regionalization formalized the multi-year attendance of Shirley students at what was known as Ayer High School. There was another first this year – co-salutatorians.

Co-Salutatorian Allison Fillebrown plans to attend Assumption College this fall with a major in marketing. Fillebrown channeled her love for basketball when addressing the crowd, drawing a correlation between the four quarters of a basketball game and the four grades of high school, with classmates servings as ‘teammates.’

By the end of the third quarter, you are within two, and the crowd is on its feet. The buzzer sounds and you realize that this is your last shot at making it,” said Fillebrown. The fourth quarter “flies by. You are within one. You steal the ball and make your way to the basket.” If fouled, calmly step up to the free throw line and make the shot. “This is the time to finish high school and begin your game somewhere new.”

Co-Salutatorian Katherine Pare will attend Framingham State College to study nursing. Pare was described as a voracious reader when introduced by Librarian Margaret Twiss who said Pare was her “best customer” as well as an assistant for her.

Pare told the crowd the graduates’ journey began in August 1999 when their public schooling began. In kindergarten, students would have answered that they wanted to be a firefighter, police officer or super hero when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” But now, for those applying to college, the applications asked for specifics – “what is your intended major?”

“This was it. They wanted to know a real answer,” said Pare. The answers we have given have shaped our lives.”

Valedictorian Shawnna Taylor also intends to study nursing when she attends Sacred Heart University. Quoting T.S. Eliot, Taylor asked her classmates “Do you dare to disturb the universe?” Taylor encouraged her peers to make their mark on the world. “Throw overwhelming insecurity to the wind. It has no use for you.”

There were 89 graduates who streamed up on the stage, one after another, to accept their diploma. There was a moment of silence for Nina Paillard, a classmate who died on October 27, 2010.

Before being released to their joyous friends and families for photos and celebrations, the fresh graduates turned their tassels on their mortarboards from the right-hand side to the left before flinging their caps skyward.

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