LOWER TOWNSHIP — The rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun came out with just enough breeze at Steven Steger Field to keep the gnats away as Lower Cape May Regional graduated 249 students on Friday afternoon.
“It has been cold and rainy all day, but somehow the sun always shines on Lower Cape May graduation day,” Principal Joseph Castellucci said.
The rain had been a concern all day for a district that draws hundreds of family and friends to commencement, making the outdoor football field preferable to the inside auditorium. The weather turned at just the right time. The aluminum bleachers were dried with towels before Maggie Chase, senior class vice president, introduced her class. Then class president Megan Turner welcomed her class
“Lower Cape May helped shape who we are and who we will become. As a door closes from high school, another opens to start our future,” Turner said.
Valedictorian Victoria Mann told her class to learn from mistakes but don’t dwell on them.
She told a story from a soccer camp she attended six years ago. Her coach taught her about “flushing” mistakes made during a game, because dwelling on them diminished performance and led to more mistakes. She applied the lesson beyond soccer.
“We have all made mistakes, failed tests, missed the shot, forgot the lines or maybe even lost that homework that we swore we did. In regards to what I learned at that camp, perhaps instead of hoping to forget our failures, we should flush them as they occur,” Mann said.
She got a laugh when she said she flushed a B she got on a test this year.
“To that teacher, you know who you are, I have moved on. I have flushed it,” Mann said.
But she said flushing mistakes does not mean not learning from them. She said flush the “embarrassment and disappointment” but use it as a learning experience.
Salutatorian Michael Foster said each classmate will take a different journey in life and he advised them to be able to alter it at times, because no matter how much planning is done, things often don’t turn out as expected.
“A high school diploma does not come with a road map for life, and there is no app we can simply download to our phones that gives us directions for a happily ever after,” Foster said. “We can’t just program successful career, wife, two kids and a golden retriever into our GPS system and have a computerized voice tell us whose hands to shake and what conversations to have.”
He warned the road will include curves and speed bumps, red lights and flat tires.
“It will be paved with many failures,” Foster said, “but if we knew where we were going, we wouldn’t learn anything along the way.
“So, learn from the wrong turns and remember you are not lost, you are just recalculating your current route,” he said.
It was the last graduation speech for retiring Superintendent Jack Pfizenmayer. He said he did a computer search to find the right words and found them, a view about looking at new perspectives and thinking outside the box, from the school’s website in posts from senior Natalie Craig.
He also advised students to think of their lives as a terminal illness, because then they would live it with passion.
Diplomas were handed out before more rain arrived. The graduates tossed their mortar boards in the air and left to celebrate.
“You are now and forever Caper Tigers and that is reason enough for celebration,” Castellucci said.
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