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Madison Graduates 486 in Class of 2012

Guest speaker Timothy Buckley insists former students should not fear failure.

On Friday, as departing Madison High School seniors sat together as Warhawks one last time, former school counselor Timothy Buckley stressed an unconventional commencement speech theme: You're all going to fail.

"Pretty inspiring, huh?" he asked the crowd gathered at James Robinson Secondary School.

Buckley used that advice, along with light-hearted anecdotes, as a farewell message to Madison's graduating Class of 2012 at the school's 52nd Commencement ceremony.

Offering the graduates seven rules to live by, the Thoreau Middle School counselor quoted Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Michael Jordan to stress both the serious—remain open to new experiences, be nice—with the silly—tip well, own a dog.

“When you sit back in life and think about your disappointments or regrets in your life, it will not be the things that you did not accomplish that will haunt you,” Buckley said. “Rather, it will be the opportunities that you did not take advantage of.”

For a moment, the grin faded from Buckley’s face as he recognized one of the 486 graduates, Scott Hammond, who was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer before high school and told he might have only six months to live. Four years to the day later, Hammond received the loudest ovation of the evening before receiving his diploma with the rest of the graduating class.

“When I look out into this senior class and I see this young man,” Buckley said, “I am in awe and truly inspired by his courage and his ability to remain focused and determined as he battled a very rare form of cancer.”

Hammond was one of several students to be recognized individually. Sarah Erickson and Alexander Ostapovicz received the Citizenship Award for their positive attitudes and contributions in the community and Bethany Hartt was given the Faculty Award for character, leadership and scholarship. 

Kristen Inglese, another Hawk Talk editor and Vienna Idol finalist, performed her original song, “Chapters,” while a few graduates ushered in a new beginning with the longstanding tradition of batting around beach balls before marching across the stage.

Julia Horowitz and Annie Pavlik, both editors of the student newspaper, the Hawk Talk, delivered the student speech. Despite the impressive academic accolades accrued by the class of 2012, which included 87 graduates who achieved a cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.0 or higher, the pair focused their attention on students’ ambition outside the classroom. When the school administration made a controversial decision to cancel the annual senior class trip to Washington D.C., the seniors fought back by collecting hundreds of signatures to successfully get the trip reinstated.

“The class of 2012 was about more than just numbers,” Pavlik said. “We were about action.”

For more photos

“Chapters”
by Kristen Inglese

Since the beginning of this pact
They said children stay on track
But suddenly we have to make our own
And for some reason I don’t know why
On the same line of latitude we all lie
And in the end
I’m glad we all were here

This may be the close
Of one of our chapters
But the best stories told
Are always remembered

Despite all you’ve learned, I bet you didn’t know
That for all these years we’ve been watching you grow
And now we are watching you leave
Though a time known as future will become our new friend
We’ll keep a part of us here to anchor and amend
It’s time you know
To help each other move on

This may be the close
Of one of our chapters
But the best stories told
Are always remembered

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