Westport High School Class of ’21: 'Extraordinary — our middle name'

Class is last to graduate from old Westport High

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 6/16/21

WESTPORT — Together they weathered strange times, and that experience not only strengthened them but brought them close together, speakers told the audience at Saturday afternoon’s …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?

Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.

Westport High School Class of ’21: 'Extraordinary — our middle name'

Class is last to graduate from old Westport High


WESTPORT — Together they weathered strange times, and that experience not only strengthened them but brought them close together, speakers told the audience at Saturday afternoon’s Westport High School Class of 2021 graduation.

Gathering behind the school, this year with a good-sized audience of family and friends, the 84 graduates, said theirs is a special class — it had to be given the surprises handed its members over the years.

Class salutatorian Gabriella Machairas said that as she pondered and procrastinated over her speech she realized, that writing it should not have been easy because if it was, that would mean our time here in the Westport schools was ordinary.

“For the Class of 2021, extraordinary has become our middle name. Our class is the embodiment of perseverance and community.”

As seventh graders, this class was the first to jump straight to the middle/high school — our middle school experience got cut short. We had to “grow up fast, (become) little fish in a big sea.”

And the first day of senior year was spent at home, “making sure our computers were fully charged for a day of Google Meets … Our senior project meant wearing something fancy from the waist up” behind a computer screen in our bedrooms.

“We are the last graduating class from this building and I can’t think of a graduating class more fitting than us,” she said.

“I never imagined I’d be up at the mic at graduation but I’ll take any claim to fame I can get,”Class President Daniel Swain said.

“I’ve always found it silly that at the age of 18 people expect us to have our whole future planned out.”

High school, he said “is just a prologue to the book of life that we are writing. We are the authors and illustrators of our own story … Do not live out anyone’s expectations,” though it is okay to ask for help along the way.

“Oddly enough, this year where nothing went right — this is the year when everything clicked.”

Everything seemed to fall apart at the school after Ms. Tutalo left , he said — the leadership was a revolving door.

But then Ms. McKinnon arrived as principal with a new team “and gave us the change we needed and wanted. Her guiding philosophy was for the students,” Mr. Swain said.

“Stay confident, stay strong,” he told his classmates, “and be who you are.”

Valedictorian Emily McMahon said that, in preparing her speech, she had wondered why it is that the valedictorian gets to address her class, which got her wondering what it is to be a leader.

She said she realized that her notion of leadership has changed.

“I now understand that leadership is not a trait that is rare or difficult to obtain. I also know that one does not have to be called a leader to be one. I believe that we are all leaders, all of us, whether you were in all the leadership clubs or didn’t participate in any at all.”

Effort, she said, is the key word. “If you put in the effort you are a leader … There is always room to grow as a leader. Do not wait for validation.”

So why does the valedictorian get to speak at graduation? I don’t know, she said — history, tradition perhaps. “I see 84 seniors who all deserve to speak today.”

“The meaning of life is just to be alive,” she said, quoting Alan Watts

“Let’s go out there and be alive.”

Earlier School Committee Chairwoman Nancy Tavares (filling in for Superintendent of Schools Thomas Aubin), told the class that they have the historic honor of being the last to graduate from this 70-year-old building.

“I invited those who attended to reflect on the memorable times” spent here, and the people you have known here along the way.

As you walk across the stage, “be fully present in this moment,” she told the seniors. Know that it is “both a final step and the first moment of a new beginning.”

Senior Alan Viveiros led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Brooklyn Barboza sand the Star Spangled Banner.


Westport High School Class of 2021

Joseph Oliveira Alexandre Jr 

Renato Amaral Araujo 

Madison Taylor Avilla* 

Brooklyn Barboza 

Maya C. Bazinet 

Faith Bennivedse* 

Jason Alexander Bernard* 

Zachary Brillon 

Liam Morgan Thomas Butler* 

Jennifer Maria Cabral 

Jessica Carney* 

Jade Carreau 

Jenna Rose Carvalho* 

Cameron Scott Casto 

Debra May Chor 

Dylan E. Cordeiro 

David Costa 

Cheyenne E. Daviage 

Zachary J. Dechaine 

Deja Adriana Dominguez 

Nathan Anthony Fay 

Jordan M. Folcik 

Ethan Garcia* 

Isabella Mercer Glennon* 

Aidan Halliwell* 

Isaac N. Hayes 

Cameron Tyler Horta* 

Julia Grace Hurley* 

Kandarp K. Kotadia 

Shawn C. Landry* 

Maximus E. Lavoie 

Maeve Iris Leary* 

Willem Gifford LeBelle 

Nichole C. LePage* 

Joseph William Lopes 

Emma E. Lori 

Gabriella Machairas* 

Ava Celeste Matos* 

Jillian A. Mauk* 

Noah Mauricio 

Emily K. McMahon* 

Caleb A. Medas 

Austin G. Medeiros 

Judi M. Medeiros 

Lacie N. Miranda 

Siena Grace Moniz* 

Sage C. Newcomer 

Sara Northrup 

Derek R. Nowicki 

Isis F. Obolensky* 

Cody J. Pacheco 

Luke W. Parker 

Nicholas P. Payne 

Ashton D. Pereira 

Zoe K. Pereira* 

John D. Piques 

William T. Piques 

Maxwell H. Powers* 

Abigail Rose Proffitt 

Brianna L. Quinlan 

Donjae K. Raiche 

Robert Michael Raposa* 

Evan W. Rencurrel 

Mia Rezendes* 

Gavin Tyler Rodrigues 

Allen P. Serpa 

Blaine Robert Shea* 

Cassidy R. Silvia 

Cameron Richard Simonin 

Brian W. Smith 

Morgan E. Soares 

Abigail Miranda Sousa* 

Connor Strangis 

Liam Strangis 

Daniel Robert Swain* 

Nicole L. Therrien 

Savannah A. Trowbridge 

Joseph T. Turenne* 

Nathaniel A. Vieira 

Alyssa M. Vitorino 

Aidan A. Viveiros* 

Joseph E. Wagner 

*National Honor Society 

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.