The few, the fantastic

Westport High School Class of 2017, all 85 of them, offer emotional goodbyes


It was a moment of celebration but also for heartfelt farewells — the 85 members of the Westport Class of 2017 for their teachers and one another, and Principal Cheryl Tutalo for the school she has led for the past 11 years.

And with those goodbyes at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies in the high school gym came emotions as speakers told of strong bonds forged within this small but close-knit and supportive class.

“When I was 3, I would count with The Count from Sesame Street as he counted bats going by,” said salutatorian (and class president) Hailey Charest, her voice breaking from time to time.

“When I was 5 years old, I would count the Cheerios in my cereal bowl as I chased them with a spoon … At 16, I counted the tips I made after my first day of scooping ice cream.”

And, “Today, at 18,  I count the number of days I have left with the ones I’ve grown up with and have come to love.”

“There are 85 of us graduating today,” said valedictorian Kendra Wilkinson. Our numbers may not be great, “But a single candle can light a thousand other candles. Let your kindness, your curiosity and your uniqueness light the way along whatever path you take, and so illuminate the way for others.”

And there were tears, too, when Ms Tutalo’s turn came and she spoke of the enormous pride she felt for this, her final class as principal. She has been at Westport High School during moments of celebration and frivolity (emceeing the Mr. Westport competitions for instance), and also at sad times including the loss of classmates. Handing out diplomas is a part of being principal that she enjoyed the most — she especially savored those moments this time.

When her talk came to an end, the audience rose in applause as Superintendent of Schools Ann Marie Dargon gave Ms. Tutalo a big hug.

And despite its small size, this class has accomplished big things, Ms. Dargon, School Committee Chairman Margot DesJardins and other speakers noted — Ms. DesJardins said she took her time signing the diplomas which she called a most special task.

“With me stands the best class to ever grace the halls of Westport High,” Ms. Wilkinson said to applause. This is the bunch that helped raise $350,000 for scholarships and played roles “in an outstanding performance of Beauty and the Beast.”

“In terms of school spirit, I am proud to say we won pep rally every year, though the record books may claim otherwise.

“But what I am most proud of, and what defines our class, is our curiosity, our individuality, and our kindness,” Ms. Wilkinson said.

Ms. Charest agreed — “ Without the support of each other, this would have been an extremely bumpy ride. We are a truly exceptional group of kids, if I do say so myself. “

“We each have an incredible potential, and have the power to fulfill it,” Ms. Charest concuded.

“In this room we have future doctors, engineers, nurses, firefighters, FBI Agents, teachers, archeologists, scientists, business owners and more. Every single one of us on this stage have the ability to make the world a better place. However, never forget this: Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.

Class of 2017

Amber Rose Abate

Dylan Jacob Abelha

Jake Kenneth Aguiar

Robert Charles Alves

Ashley Lucille Bernier

Connor Thomas Brown

Nicole Michaela Cabral

Madison Ann Carey

Henry Ross Carton

Aliah Lynn Carvalho

Emily Elizabeth Casado

Nicholas Adam Ceniseroz

Hailey Anne Charest

Joshua Benjamin Chor

Daniel Alexander Clayton

Bryce Alan Coite

Philip James Cordeiro

Olivia Marie Corey

Robert Alan Correia III

Elijah Arlindo Dasilva

Michael Allan Davis

Connor William Demello

Melina Jayde Deree

Jeff William Diogo

Sarah Julianna Duarte

Nicholas William Fay

Samantha Nicole Ferland

Brandon Richard Ferreira

Katheryn Nicole Ferreira

Kara Lindsey Figueiredo

Evan Craig Gendreau

Stephen David Gibson

Hollyann Gonsalves

Hannah May Hackett

Curtis Russell Hague

Zachary John Halliwell

Colby James Hawes

David Daniel Heddy

Brianna Kelly Hickey

Sophia Rose LeJacq-Smith

Patric Adam Lescarbeau

Tayla Nicole Lingley

Michaela Diane Perreira Lobo

Ruby Tiara Lopez

Nicholas Lori

David Marshall Jr

Joseph William McClure

Alexis J Mcconnell

Kassandra Paige Medeiros

Nicholas Edward Medeiros-Vieira

Ethan Michael Melo

Grace Chance Moran

Samuel Karl Morra

Angela Marie Mulroy

Tyler Raymond Page

Mary Lynn Parker

Jaely Cailin Pereira

Andrew Martins Pereira

Alyssa Rose Pimentel

Koby Hunter Porawski

Rodemiro Neftali Quezada

Nicholas Toufic Raad

Justin L. Ramos

Jocelyn Faith Rego

Alicia Anna Reitano

Robert Reitano

Aiden Joseph Rezendes

Austin Wayne Rose

Gabriella Ann Santos

Daniel Michael Shea

Ian Christopher Sigman

Jacob Thomas Silva

Jacob Lee Silvia

Justin Scott Simoes

Emily Irene Simonin

Callie Nichole Small

Jenna Lee Sousa

Colin John Stawicki

Amanda Lee Toomey

Arianna Rose Trahan

Michaelah Lynn Vasconcellos

Kyle Richard Velozo

Devyn Everett Vitorino

Kendra Nicole Wilkinson

Patrick Andrew Yeargin


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.