Spotlight on Southeastern’s Class of 2017 Seniors
Spotlight on Southeastern Seniors
Congratulations to the Class of 2017 who graduated on June 7th! We interviewed a number of recent graduates who distinguished themselves in their academic and vocational studies and have also been role models for their classmates and community. They represent all nine communities as well as a variety of vocational majors, skills and interests. They are just a few of our many exemplary graduates who have demonstrated a love of learning and are ready to use their skills in a variety of ventures, including further education, work or the military.
Also, congratulations to four graduating seniors who had perfect attendance all four years. They include: Victor Monteiro, Jesson Abreu and Matthew White, from Brockton, and Mark Sessa, from South Easton.
Best Wishes to all 322 graduates!
Marissa Wade (Valedictorian)–Stoughton
Marissa Wade, a Legal and Protective Services major, has found her niche—and also her voice—at Southeastern. Marissa is not only the valedictorian of the Class of 2017, but a two-time gold medal winner at the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference. She will be competing in the SkillsUSA national competition later this June in the Prepared Speech category.
Marissa’s success has come not only from hard work and perseverance, but also a willingness to come out of her comfort zone. She first came to Southeastern as a quiet and shy girl, and very reluctant to seek out other people and voice her opinions. That changed, however, when she started getting involved with the SkillsUSA competition and prepared for the speech competition.
“It gave me an outlet to express what I felt and I didn’t want to lose that opportunity,” she said.
This year’s win was especially sweet for Marissa because she also won the state gold medal last year in the same category, but was unable to compete because it conflicted with a school trip to Greece and Italy last June. Her speech is about how well vocational education has prepared her for the workforce and how she has learned to be a leader and not a follower in her interactions.
Though winning the same event twice is unusual, Marissa prepared well for the competition this year. She starting preparing in the fall, under the tutelage of her principal, David Degan, who has been coaching SkillsUSA students for two decades. She spent at least one month writing the speech, with many revisions after getting feedback from Mr. Degan.
“She has really improved since last year. The most dramatic change in her writing and her perspective is that she was not afraid to assert herself and say what she wanted to say,” he said.
Marissa said she got interested in criminal justice because she wanted to analyze people’s personalities and figure out what makes them who they are. She will be attending the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in the fall and plans to study psychology. She said she’ll always be grateful with how well Southeastern and SkillsUSA have prepared her for the future
“Vocational education has made me who I am today, and I would not be the same person without it,” she said.
Elizabeth Bechtel (Salutatorian)–Norton
‘A’ is for apple and the only grade you will find on a copy of Elizabeth Bechtel of Norton’s transcript. Elizabeth (Liz) is graduating from the Early Education and Care vocational program second in her graduating class, earning her the title of Salutatorian. Her scholastic hard work has certainly paid off as she has earned several scholarships to help fund her post-secondary education at Bridgewater State University next fall: the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, the Superintendent’s Award of Academic Achievement, the James Goodwin Memorial Scholarship and the Norton Lions Club Scholarship.
Not only is Liz a high achieving student when it comes to academics, but she also excels in her vocational program, Early Education and Care, which has secured her a job at KinderCare of South Easton through the Co-operative Education program, where she will continue to work full-time after graduation. When asked if she preferred the younger or older children at the daycare, she said, “I like the toddlers and infants. It’s easier to make the little ones smile.” At KinderCare, she works as a teacher assistant, and covers breaks and acts as a substitute when a teacher is out.
Liz plans to major in either Early Childhood Education or Psychology at Bridgewater State University. “I don’t necessarily want to be an early education teacher, but I may. I also may want to be a childhood specialist. I just love interacting with children.”
Aside from her love working with children, Liz also enjoys running and traveling, both of which she tells me she would like to do a lot more of now that school is out.
Natalie MacDonald—Metal Fabrication Major—Brockton
Natalie MacDonald came to Southeastern with one clear goal in mind—to work as an underwater welder. Four years later, she’s on the fast-track to do just that. She has been accepted into a 10-month program for commercial diving at Holland College, on Prince Edward Island, where she will undergo intense training to become a commercial diver/underwater welder.
The career is a strenuous one and the vast majority of underwater welders are men. But Natalie takes the prospect in stride. She is well prepared for the physical challenge, having been on two different swimming teams since she was 12 years old.
She has also worked extremely hard at Southeastern and is graduating as the top-ranked student from Brockton. She said she has always liked math, and this year she has excelled in two STEM AP courses, chemistry and calculus.
“I don’t like to fail. That’s what has kept me working as hard as I have,” she said.
Though Natalie’s career will likely involve working with heavy infrastructure such as oil rigs and bridges, she also has enjoyed the artistic side of metal working. One of her favorite projects in shop has been making metal roses. She also enjoyed building a table at her co-op job, at South Shore Welding in Lakeville.
Shannon McGlinchey—East Bridgewater
Shannon McGlinchey is anything but your average graduating senior. Her love for the arts compelled her to apply to Southeastern Regional for high school; however, it is Southeastern that has benefitted from her presence. With an impressive 4.078 GPA, Shannon is wrapping up her final days in the Video and Performing Arts vocational program. “I have always loved art, so I knew I wanted to be in an art-based vocational program.” She originally thought that program was Advertising and Design. She has experience with acting, but viewed that as more of a hobby rather than something from which she could make a career. However, when the Performing Arts program grew to include photography and video production, Shannon found her niche.
Unlike most seniors with such an impressive GPA, Shannon has not decided where she plans to further her education and has decided to use the summer and fall semester to narrow down her interest. “I don’t want to waste money. I want to be sure about what I’m doing.” She knows she wants to continue in the photography or video production industry, but felt overwhelmed and pressured to choose a career path. She wants to make a more informed decision by taking some time to research potential career paths and schools. “My big dream is to take pictures around the world, but that’s not realistic. I need to learn about different career paths related to photography or video production.” Shannon says her parents support her decision to take a semester off and encourage her to do the research to find a school and career major.
While Shannon continues searching for the college or university that will make her dreams come true, she will continue working at Rue21 at the Hanover Mall, taking pictures, and going on adventures with friends.
Michaela Berry—North Easton
If you have spent any time walking the hallways at Southeastern Regional, you have probably seen Michaela Berry walking around with a camera. Michaela is part of the Advertising and Design vocational program and has been unofficially dubbed head student photographer, and officially, head of the Yearbook Club. It is the first time a student has taken the lead on making the yearbook, which is no small task. “It was so much work,” she says of making the 2016-2017 yearbook for Southeastern Regional.
In the fall, Michaela is set to attend Lesley University in Cambridge for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography program. Michaela is at the top of her graduating class with a near 4.0 GPA, which has earned her both the Presidential Scholarship and a Portfolio Scholarship from the University.
After college, Michaela plans to become an event photographer claiming, “I love people, and I love photography, so being an event photographer is a way to combine those two loves.” She is well on her way, as she has already been contracted to photograph a faculty member’s wedding in July of 2018.
In addition to the Yearbook Club, Michaela has been involved in Southeastern’s Drama Club as dance captain, and the Southeastern Travel Club, with which she has taken two international trips. “It was my first time out of the country when we went to Italy and Greece. I celebrated my 17th birthday in Greece.” That was in June of 2016. In April of 2017, she also traveled with the club to Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Lichtenstein.
In addition to her extracurricular activities at Southeastern, Michaela also babysits and lifeguards at the Easton YMCA.
Celeste Smith—East Bridgewater
Celeste Smith of East Bridgewater has always loved art, but after spending time in a vocational program whose focus is video and photography, she found her true passion on which she plans to build her career after graduating from Southeastern. She thought her passion was in drawing and sketching when she began at Southeastern Regional in the Advertising and Design vocational program, but after taking photography and video classes with Kate Brown in the Video and Performing Arts program, she knew she had to change her major. “It’s interesting to see how a photo will turn out,” she says. “You see it in real life, but a photo will look different because you make it look different.” Celeste does not have a preference on subject matter; she enjoys taking portraits and pictures of objects and scenery equally. “You can take a bunch of pictures, but you will only like one.”
Celeste says she will be happy with any career in photography, but her dream job would be a freelance photographer, and based on her success at Southeastern, should be very attainable. Celeste boasts an impressive 4.2 GPA as a result of nearly straight A’s and several honors and AP classes, putting her at the top of her class. She has been accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts program for Photography at Lesley University in Cambridge beginning in the fall, where she has earned the highest scholarship, the Presidential Scholarship, from the University, in addition to a portfolio scholarship based on her application portfolio.
In her spare time, Celeste enjoys listening to music, especially from the 80’s and 90’s, skateboarding, and working her part-time job at Zumiez apparel store at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree.
Whether teaching children about nutrition or helping them to roll out playdough, Mersydes Stafford has always loved working with children and being a positive role model. Her interests were a great fit for Southeastern’s Early Education and Child Care program, where she has worked with toddlers and preschoolers from ages 15 months to 5-years old.
Mersydes said she liked all aspects of her vocational program and her teachers say she has shown a great level of maturity that is ideal for an early education educator.
“She’s very instinctive with children, and she’s also very creative with ideas and projects,” said Judith Fagundes, one of her vocational teachers.
Mersydes demonstrated that creativity for her senior project when she created a nutritional cookbook for preschoolers and their families. She spent some time creating recipes with children, and shared the cookbook online with all the families. She also made it interactive and included pictures of healthy food.
Mersydes will be attending Bridgewater State University, with the goal of majoring in Early Education and working as a second-grade teacher. She said her favorite part of Southeastern was the teachers and she considered both her vocational teachers, Ms. Caron and Ms. Fagundes, as great mentors. She also received exemplary evaluations from her externship at the Brockton Public Schools, where she worked in kindergarten classrooms.
When Max Foley first came to Southeastern, he thought he would major in Performing Arts. He changed his mind when he took an after-school (9/10) course in metal expression. The course allowed students to experiment with metal making in a relaxed atmosphere, which suited Max’s personality.
“I just liked what we did, and I also liked hanging out with the people,” he said.
At the end of his freshman year, Max chose to major in Precision Machinery, which involves the design and manufacture of precision parts in a variety of fields, including medical, industrial, aerospace and the military. Over the years, he completed a great variety of challenging projects, including turner’s cubes, puzzle blocks and full-sized aluminum bats. His teacher, Robert Dennen, said that Max is very talented and he is always on task.
“He’s just a really good kid. He does what he’s supposed to do and does a great job at it,” he said.
Max received the outstanding vocational award for his shop this year, and he also did very well academically, graduating with high honors and taking AP courses in calculus and government. He has also found success working at his co-op job at F. C. Philips Manufacturing in Stoughton, where he will be working full-time after graduation. He said that he plans to go to college, but he wants to have a chance to work and advance in his field before going back to school.
Elizabeth Collar of Norton had dreams of acting for her life’s work when she started freshman year at Southeastern Regional, but by the end of sophomore year, she knew her true love was for video production and photography, a different side of the Performing Arts shop. “I love the idea of telling a story through pictures, and every person who looks at the picture will have a different interpretation.” Elizabeth (Liz) says she does not like to modify her pictures with Photoshop or other programs, instead preferring to let them be natural. “My favorite things to photograph are nature, especially animals. I’ve done a lot of sunsets, but I would like to get more experience at night photography and photographing the stars.”
After graduating 4th in her class with an impressive 4.25 GPA, Liz will attend Bridgewater State University in September as an art major with a photography concentration. She also hopes to add a minor in writing, another passion of hers. “For my senior project, I self-published a book of poems titled, Masks, Love, and Fairytale Dreams.” Her book can be purchased on Amazon.com for $15.00 and references her favorite teacher, Kate Brown (Video & Performing Arts), on the back cover as the reason her book of poems came to fruition.
Liz is the recipient of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for earning scores of “Advanced” on both the ELA and Mathematics MCAS exams. Additionally, she has earned the Julio B. Ferreira Memorial Scholarship at Southeastern and the Rotary Club of Mansfield Scholarship for her employment at Shaw’s in Mansfield.
When asked what her dream job of the future is, she says, “I would like to travel the world and take pictures. That would be awesome. But once that is over, I would like to open a small photography studio of my own.”
Venezia “Vini” Delgadillo came to Southeastern knowing that she wanted to go to college, but she also wanted to be certified to work in a vocational trade that she could always depend on. She decided to major in Cosmetology and today she not only has a cosmetology license, but she also has a full scholarship to Newbury College, where she plans to major in marketing.
Since freshman year, Vini dove right into academics, her vocational trade, and sports, and she said it was a great experience. She graduated with the third highest GPA in the Class of 2017 even though she took very challenging courses, including AP calculus and a virtual AP biology course. She liked a lot of different subjects, but her favorites were English and cosmetology.
Vini found cosmetology both challenging and rewarding and she really liked being creative. She enjoyed working with other students during competitions and particularly liked dressing up her classmate as a Mad Hatter during a competition with Plymouth South High School this year. She also won a silver medal in the SkillsUSA district competition and a bronze medal at the SkillsUSA state competition for cosmetology students with over 500 hours of training.
“I really liked working with avant-garde styles, and my favorite part was working with hair colors,” she said.
Vini also played three sports—basketball, volleyball and lacrosse, and she’s been recruited to play both volleyball and lacrosse for Newbury College. She said her favorite sport was lacrosse and she especially enjoyed it when her team made it to the first-round tournament of the Mayflower League this year.
“It was really exciting. We hardly won at all my first year and to make the playoffs was incredible,” she said.
Vini looks forward to college and thinks she may end up in sports marketing and advertising. Until then, she’ll be busy working as a camp counselor at the JCC Center in Newton, and will also be performing at Universal Studios this summer with the Inspiration Performing Troupe, as a singer and dancer. She said she has great memories of Southeastern and will especially miss driving to school with her mom, Marguerite Morrissey, who is a special education teacher at Southeastern.
“She’s always really calm and I really liked spending that time with her,” she said.
Stephen Kelley—West Bridgewater
Not too many high school students can say they have worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but graduating senior Stephen Kelley of West Bridgewater can. Through his vocational program, Legal and Protective Services, Stephen and two fellow students worked with the FDA as youth inspectors conducting undercover buys. They would travel with their FDA representative to different merchants who sell tobacco products and e-Cigarette products and try to purchase these products as minors. If the vendor sold to them, the FDA would follow standard protocol for the violation. Stephen continued this work until he turned 18 in April and aged out of the program.
As a freshman, Stephen was torn between wanting the Performing Arts vocational program or Legal and Protective Services, despite that, he says the three-day exploratory in Legal won him over. “I love psychology, and Mr. Bohning includes a lot of that in shop.” In the future, Stephen can see himself working as a therapist, but he is also interested in political science as a result of attending Student Government Day and Boys State during his time at Southeastern.
Stephen is attending Boston College in the fall with an intended major of Psychology, however, he is open to other majors as he learns more about them. Whatever path he chooses, his impressive 4.0 GPA and Advanced scores on all three mandated MCAS exams surely bodes well for his success.
In addition to his impressive transcript, Stephen is also very involved with his church and doing community service with his congregation.
Arlette Dervil (SkillsUSA Massachusetts State President)—Brockton
When adversity strikes, it often sows the seeds of success. For Arlette Dervil, those hardships started at a young age, but they never got the best of her, and, in fact, have led her to become an outstanding student and an exemplary leader for all vocational students.
Arlette first came to the United States when she was 11 years old after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Although her house was not destroyed, much of the infrastructure around her home was devastated and the family decided that they would be better off seeking opportunities in the United States, where they had relatives. She arrived with her mother and sister, leaving her father behind to continue supporting the family as an accountant.
The adjustment was difficult and traumatic. She originally settled in Randolph, where her uncle and grandmother lived, speaking a limited amount of English and enrolling in ESL programs in sixth grade. Just one year later, she was integrated into regular classrooms, where she was afraid to speak.
“I had a heavy accent and people didn’t understand me. I had a small group of friends from other countries (who were also in the ESL classroom), but I was insecure and uncomfortable,” she said.
Right before starting high school, her grandmother had several strokes and her family relocated to a more affordable home in Brockton. Arlette had originally planned on attending Blue Hills Regional Technical High School, but enrolled in Southeastern after the move.
“I wanted to go to a technical school because I was always better with hands-on work,” she said.
Arlette enrolled in Medical Assisting, a new program at Southeastern, and she found it challenging. She studied hard and gives credit to her teacher, Dennise Palioglou, who helped her to navigate through medical terminology and an ample amount of book work. She also developed two important skills, perseverance and patience, which helped her to get through that first year.
“I wanted it so bad—it was everything I expected, but I was so tired of the book work,” she said.
Arlette started to shine when she started her clinical rotations, which is part of the Medical Assisting program. She started working at a Cape Verdean day care center in Brockton and ran the BINGO contests for the elderly patients, which she loved. During her junior year, she worked for the Orthopedic Surgical Center in Easton where she said she got great hands-on experience.
She also had great success with SkillsUSA, a nonprofit organization for technical students that holds district, state and national competitions each year. During her sophomore and junior years, she was elected to be a state officer, which involved campaigning as well as writing and delivering a speech.
“Ms. Fox (Southeastern’s SkillsUSA Advisor) had me very well prepared. She kept throwing random questions at me,” Arlette said.
As an upperclassman, Arlette still faced challenges, but she found amazing success in both her school and extracurricular activities. She was elected president of SkillsUSA Massachusetts, which will allow her to lead the state delegation at the national conference in Louisville, Kentucky, later this month. She was also chosen to become part of the SkillsUSA tour throughout Massachusetts, representing multicultural students and she attended the WorldSkills General Assembly in Niagara Falls with students from 72 countries.
Arlette experienced more personal hardships during her senior year, when her father passed away on the first day of school. Though it was difficult for the entire family, she was able to pick up the pieces and continue her school work. Her senior year clinical, with Brockton Pediatrics, turned out to be her favorite working experience. Though she didn’t get as many responsibilities as she would have liked at first, she decided to be patient and enthusiastic. Soon she got to shadow other medical assistants and began getting her own responsibilities, including taking vital signs and performing her first strep throat and hemoglobin tests.
“I’m excited because I’m going to be working there full-time (for the summer),” she said.
Arlette will be attending the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services in the fall, with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician’s assistant. She said she is excited about that job because it focuses on patient interaction and would also give her the opportunity to thoroughly review patients’ files and revise them if necessary. Though she is excited about her own opportunities, she also sees it as a way to continue reaching out to people.
“I’ve learned a lot about personal and employability skills, and I think it will help me in the future,” she said.
Mikylah Forde (Gold Medalist SkillsUSA State Conference)—Brockton
When considering high school options, Mikylah Forde chose Southeastern Regional for several reasons. Firstly, she wanted to explore a career path in either Cosmetology or Culinary and secondly, she loved the idea of spending time in a vocational program, as opposed to full-time academics.
As a freshman, Mikylah hit the Business & Marketing Program during her exploratory cycle and says, “I just knew. I could do Business now and Culinary later, as I planned to go to college at Johnson & Wales.”
Through the years, as she learned more and more about herself, she says, “I knew, Culinary isn’t what will make me happy in the end. I will focus on either Business or Hotel Management when I begin at Johnson & Wales this fall.”
Mikylah’s proudest high school moment was earning a gold medal at the State Leadership and Skills Conference, this past April, in the Dye Sublimation competition.
Mikylah’s SkillsUSA career began during her sophomore year when she competed at Regionals in the field of Business & Marketing. She went on to serve as Southeastern’s Chapter Vice President 2016/2017.
During her senior year, Graphic Communications Instructor Cheryl Blanchard approached her about competing in SkillsUSA’s first ever Dye Sublimation Competition, at the state level.
Mikylah said, “Mrs. Blanchard asked me, and she always does a lot for me, so I wanted to do this for her. I knew Skills was a fun experience from attending the SkillsUSA Fall State Leadership Conference as our chapter’s V.P.”
What she didn’t expect was to bring home the gold! Mikylah is looking forward to representing both Southeastern and the state of Massachusetts at the 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference this June in Louisville, Kentucky.
In an effort as big as her personality, Mikylah took on the fight against cancer as her senior project. In developing what she dubbed “Fundraising for Fighters,” she planned and organized four separate fundraising events involving Southeastern’s football, basketball and lacrosse teams, and the winter pep rally. Mikylah advertised the events, collected monies for 50/50 raffles and ½ court shot competitions.
“It was my goal to get more people out to support the teams, and fight the cause,” said Mikylah. In addition, she designed and printed 20” x 30” posters, of each senior sports player, to hang at the last home game of their season. These were then given to each player as the game ended.
A participant with the Champion City Mentoring Program, Sophomore Class Treasurer, and assisting with dances, Yearbook and Prom Committee at Southeastern, Mikylah says she learned, “being involved isn’t dorky, it’s a good thing. It taught me a lot. Taught me how to control my emotions, and also taught me communication and people skills.”
Stories by: Candance Hall, Karen Olson & Tracey Wheeler