Barrington High School’s Class of 2012 said their final goodbyes Friday night, in a graduation ceremony held at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. A total of 766 students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.
“I don’t really think I’ll be thinking anything when I walk across that stage,” said graduate Samantha Frank. “Probably just smiling. It’s all just so surreal.”
While there was the usual pomp and circumstance, the commencement speeches stood out this year, including remarks by retiring Fine Arts and English teacher Jon Lynn and exchange student Riccardo Fadiga.
“This is quite a dream come true for me,” said Lynn while giving his address. “Our fall play went downstate, my students created an amazing show in my honor, my principal asked if I would make this speech, and at the end of the year I was given my own life-size moose; does it get any better than this?!”
The jovial mood continued as senior Riccardo Fadiga took the stage. Fadiga, an exchange student from Casterno, Italy, near Milan, was selected as this year’s senior speaker, much to his surprise.
“I was completely sure I wouldn’t be picked,” said Fadiga, who has spoken English for five years. “But then I saw a picture on Facebook that said I would be the speaker. I was jumping for joy.”
Fadiga worked with several English teachers to perfect his speech, and said he wanted to make the speech because he wanted to give something back and be remembered by his fellow classmates. “[Barrington] is just really cool,” said Fadiga. “I’ve really grown affectionate.”
Fadiga, who received a rousing applause at the mere mention of his name during commencement, joked about his outgoing personality in Friday’s speech. “For those of you don’t know me…well, where have you been?” he joked.
Since arriving in Barrington last August, Fadiga has been the guest of the Barsness family. When Fadiga goes back to Italy this month, he will need to take another year of secondary education, but then hopes to make a return to the states to attend college.
“I just hope that my speech really tells everyone there’s no dream too impossible to follow,” said Fadiga, prior to giving his remarks in front of thousands. “The fact that I’m here is proof of that.”
Students seemed to echo Fadiga’s remarks throughout the night, paying tribute to their high school experience, yet remaining optimistic and excited for what lies ahead.
“The last four years have been really amazing,” said graduate Madison Keller. “But I’m also ready to move on to bigger and better things.”
The ceremony also including prelude performances by senior class soloists and ensembles, and musical performances by the Barrington High School Choir and Symphony Orchestra.
For some students, commencement marked an end to twelve years in District 220. Others, such as Fadiga, have been in the district for all but a year, yet the ending seems just as bittersweet.
“I love Barrington,” said Fadiga. “I just want to say, thanks for everything.”