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WORDS TO LIVE BY: Nanci Ortwein

"A half-century ago, it rained and rained, but that should not hold back those who will always be Ponders"

Nanci L. Ortwein,
faculty speaker
The 1962 Arlington High School graduate began teaching at AHS in 1968. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graduation speeches logo

Good afternoon.

Doctor Allison-Ampe, Representative Garballey, Doctor Bodie, Mrs. Villano, distinguished guests, cherished faculty, family and friends and most of all, you, the members of the Class of 2012. I am honored to have been chosen to address you.

This year is special to me personally. I know it is hard for you to believe, but 50 years ago today, I sat where you are sitting, on Peirce Field.

Unfortunately, I forgot my umbrella. Allow me to explain. At that time, AHS graduations were held on Tuesday evenings at 6 sharp. On the day of my graduation in 1962, it rained.

The event was postponed to Wednesday. It rained.

My mom served the graduation party food on Wednesday because she knew it wouldn’t last any longer.

Thursday arrived. It rained.

So we had the cake on Thursday as we said farewell to the various uncles and aunts who left with a kiss, a wish for good weather and what was then a very generous graduation gift of a $5 bill in a card.

Hopes soared Friday with a partly cloudy day and the ceremony was on. So here I sat, where you are now. Our bright young faces eagerly gazed up at the podium. Nothing could stop us now -- the Class of ’62!

The speeches began. The chair of the School Committee, who I have since discovered was vying for the honor of the longest, most boring graduation speech in recorded history, began to speak to us about our bright futures creating a cure for the common cold and ridding the earth of disease and pestilence.

All we needed was that diploma, and the future was ours! I fell asleep.

My friend’s quick elbow to my ribs woke me, and I noticed a dark storm cloud headed our way. When I first noticed it, it seemed to be crossing the Cambridge line in East Arlington.

As she continued speaking, it got closer, somewhere near the Capital Theater. She kept speaking, and now it was well up Mass. Avenue near the train station. Next stop…Buttricks Ice Cream, and then Peirce field.

Now I began to panic. I started to pray that she would just wrap up her speech, please. All of a sudden the heavens opened, and it started to pour and our principal, Charlie Downs, told us to report to the Lowe Auditorium. As usual, we did what we were told; we did not have to be asked twice.

Parents ran to their cars, no room in the auditorium. Upon being herded to the auditorium, the administrators hurled our diplomas at us like Frisbees and told us to go home. I felt like Dorothy being dismissed from the door of the Wizard of Oz, and I wasn’t even wearing ruby slippers, just a wet, dye-stained dress and a sopping wet blue cap and gown.

Yes, BLUE, and I never knew why. That was it, folks, our graduation.

Class of 2012, while I am not predicting any rain, in a few short minutes you will be me ... an alum.

You are a very special and select group. Whether you loved school or just yearned for sixth period to be over. Whether you were a great student or an average student, whether you loved to learn or just loved the camaraderie, the belonging to this building. These four years will stay with you all of your life because you are, my friends, like me, a Ponder.

Whether you settle in A-town, or a distant continent, Topeka Kansas or Timbuktu, you will always be ... a Ponder.

A Ponder is a friend, one who was nurtured within these walls at Arlington High School. A Ponder excels in compassion, sense of community and spirit. You, as a Ponder leave us today with all of this instilled within you. Having belonged to AHS for the past 50 years as a student and teacher, I can assure you – once a Ponder, always a Ponder.

Whatever goal you set for yourself, know that it can be met. Yes you may stumble, yes the road may be bumpier than you would have liked, but trust me, you will meet your goals because you are ... a Ponder.

Recently, in a nearby town, the graduates were told they were not special. They were told that they were just like graduates in all the other towns in the area; they had the potential for greatness, but they weren’t special just because they lived in a particular town or went to a particular school. I disagree with this idea when it comes to Arlington and Arlington High School.
As you begin your new life, when circumstances disappoint you, when you falter, fall back on the support, acceptance and the spirit instilled in you these past four years. That’s what will see you through. You are, after all ... a Ponder.

I am speaking personally not just for myself, but for a group of people who have enjoyed 50 years of friendship that began in these same halls.

A few of them are here today, looking forward to tossing their hats with you. Would you join me in welcoming home a few of the Ponders of 1962?

Their presence reinforces what I am trying to say today. Each of us left this school 50 years ago and found our way. We are here to tell you that you will too. We are with you, your friends, your teachers, your family –- a support network to get you to where you want to go in life. You ARE special because WE are a special community.

And so, my little Ponders, today we set you free. Climb high, walk tall; be proud, we are with you. In closing, I leave you with these words that were written in my yearbook by one of my teachers many years ago and indeed say so much:

The June sun shall be hard on the past. Today is full of the joy of light. And tomorrow is already warm on our faces. But even on this final day, as you close the door to the past behind you and greet the waiting sun, the past awaits your return. So……. we have left a window open…..for you. Good luck my friends. So long, never goodbye. I’ll miss you and I love you all.

 

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