Greater New Bedford Voc Tech graduates set sail for new experiences

Jun 10, 2024

Since beginning their high school careers, the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School’s Class of 2024 has faced some “turbulent waters,” according to Superintendent Michael Watson. 

Addressing the approximately 500 graduates, 70 of whom reside in Dartmouth, graduates at the commencement ceremony Friday, June 7, Watson said, “Yet amidst this uncertainty and change, you not only survived, you thrived.”

He emphasized to the graduates that education is not confined to the walls of the classroom — it comes in many forms and prepares students for life.

Watson encouraged the students to think of their education like a compass — it may not lead them to their exact destination, but it will always lead them in the right direction.

“Your skills, knowledge and experiences are the wind in your sails and they will propel you forward,” he said, adding the friendships they formed will continue to serve as “anchors that will keep you grounded as you sail into the future.”

That journey for learning never really ends, Watson said. “The world awaits your brilliance. Go and get them.”

At commencement, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said, “Your diploma represents a real accomplishment,” highlighting the many challenges high school students face and emphasizing the effects the Covid pandemic had on their education.

Though he reminded students, they didn’t achieve it alone. 

Mitchell celebrated the teachers and school staff who have made this moment possible for hundreds of students.

He also told the graduates, “Today is not a stopping point.”

Challenges remain in the world and he encourages all the students to not be spectators, but “active participants.”

“Far too many people remain in their shells out of fear of being ridiculed,” he said, adding that those who participate are the ones who find fulfillment in their lives and make the world a better place.

Valedictorian Faiza Rahaman of New Bedford said when she and her peers first came to the school as freshman, they were blobs of clay that were then “molded” and “sculpted” by their experiences.

Now, they are leaving as unique sculptures, she said. Not yet finished, but with the makings of brilliant pieces of art.

Rahaman said the people at the school have meant more to her than even being named valedictorian.

“When I was at my lowest points during my high school career, I consistently had someone to rely on, whether it be my guidance counselors, teachers or friends,” she said. “That made me realize the love and relationships that we build far outweigh any form of material success that we can possibly garner.”

Rahaman added, “As the Class of 2024, let’s continue to grow and gather as much experience and knowledge as we can to become the best versions of ourselves while uplifting one another.”