Speakers’ themes include overcoming adversity, kindness, and personal belief
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The atmosphere was an electric mix of nerves and excitement as the Marshfield High School (MHS) class of 2016 prepared to receive its diplomas and transition from students to alumni. With students, staff, family, and friends in attendance, the Boson Company Field House was at full capacity on Sunday.
Outgoing MHS principal Steve Sukawaty, who is leaving the school amidst a groundswell of support and desire for him to stay expressed by the public, shared a message of overcoming adversity when he spoke to the student body. Sukawaty is resigning from MHS and will take over as principal at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Port Washington.
Sukawaty told the graduates, “Get ready, because at some point life is going to knock you down. Life will deal you the proverbial low blow. … The question is, ‘What are you going to do when it happens?’”
“My advice to you is to plan on that rotten event occurring at some point. Don’t be shocked by it. You shouldn’t expect nor are you entitled to a life without struggle,” Sukawaty said. “You are a wonderful collection of individuals, and you’ve made your parents, teachers, and me so proud on numerous occasions.”
Sukawaty listed a number of the academic achievements of the class of 2016, which included producing a National Merit Scholar and a semifinalist for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.
“These awards and honors are a true barometer of an academically rigorous high school, and we are certainly that,” Sukawaty said. He later added, “This class is also primarily responsible for turning in the highest ACT cumulative score in Marshfield High School history.”
“This school sits proudly on top,” Sukawaty said. “We are great because we’re a great team: students, parents, and teachers that all care. That is a recipe for success.”
Sukawaty introduced the student speakers for the ceremony, Courtney Mitchell and Michael Gui. He noted Mitchell’s involvement with Future Farmers of America, strong academic performance, and work outside of school as a nanny.
Mitchell spoke to the audience about the value of kindness. She specifically praised teachers Shauna Dargenio, Tim Heeg, and Melissa Stockheimer for their positive impacts on her life.
“Imagine a world in which everyone is kinder than is necessary and how wonderful a place it would be,” Mitchell said. “As we are taking our first wobbly footsteps into adulthood, I challenge all of my fellow graduates to be kinder than is necessary in every situation that you find yourselves in.”
In introducing Gui, Sukawaty praised his academic excellence, citing Gui’s perfect ACT score as proof.
“From an intellectual perspective, Michael is a major force, and I have to wonder each time I look at him what incredible things will this young man do as an adult,” said Sukawaty.
Gui’s speech focused on what he called “the power of personal belief.”
“In all our time here has taught us perseverance, respect, and resilience, traits that will greatly help us in the future,” Gui said, later telling his fellow graduates, “We are our own teachers now.”
Gui also told his classmates to trust their “gut” and that regardless of speed, moving forward is what is important in life. Throughout his remarks Gui sprinkled in a good deal of humor.
“For those of us who are unsure or preoccupied with deliberation, take this into account: The road is paved with squirrels that couldn’t stick with a decision,” Gui said.
Check out video of the Marshfield High School orchestra and choir performance from the graduation ceremony (Video provided by Phil Smyth):