Soon-to-be graduates make their way to the stage.
Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School graduates observe the ceremony on the track field of their Stonehaven Road campus. PHOTOS BY BRENTON SNIZEK/FALL RIVER SPIRIT
Diman Valedictorian Kristina Sann addresses her fellow graduates.
The crowd gathers to watch the graduation ceremony
A commemorative cake laden with sparklers launches confetti to mark the closing of the graduation ceremony.
Diman graduates toss their caps before the setting sun.
Fall River Spirit Editor
Rain was not invited to graduation at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, but it showed up anyway. Lots of it. And right on time, slicking the stage and seats on the track field as proud parents piled in with posters, balloons, flowers and cameras June 7.
The soon-to-be graduates lined up in the automotive shop in their gowns, with a Jeep and a Ford Probe looming overhead on car lifts. They buzzed with nervous pre-ceremony chatter and speculation. Would the rain stop? Would graduation happen?
As thunder boomed, rumors started swirling that the event had been postponed until the weekend, but administrators kept the faith. Around 6 p.m., the clouds broke. "Pomp and Circumstance," the distinguished graduation processional, blasted through the speakers. A rainbow appeared over the field, catching the attention of Diman Superintendent-Director Marta Montleon.
"There is a song," she said, smiling as she sang the words. "Blue skies, nothing but blue skies."
With ugly weather no longer keeping them from their diplomas, some of Diman's 303 graduates felt their nerves kick in as they paraded onto the field toward their seats.
"My heart is racing," said Cory Roberts, who studied metal fabrication. "But it's good."
Having attended school most of his life, Brett Dussault wondered how tomorrow would feel.
"After 14 years, it's like making parole," he said, noting that he would miss his high school and his friends. "The first week is going to be weird. I'll get up early in the morning like I would for school, then say, 'Wait. What day is it?'"
Kevin Tessier, another metal fabrication student, thought about his next move.
"I don't know how I feel," he said. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get out. I'll take it day by day, I guess, and figure something out."
Some graduates will attend college while others will go to work in one of at least 16 trades for which Diman offers training. Others, such as Tessier, will weigh their options. In a struggling economy, graduation comes with no guarantees, no certainties.
Except, perhaps, the one expressed by graduate Dennis Silvia.
"Life is never going to be the same," he said.
Graduates got rock-star treatment as they took their seats on the track field, their families in the stands welcoming them with cheers and air horns. A crane-operated camera swooped overhead to capture aerial shots of their colorful, cap-clad heads.
Valedictorian Kristina Sann, who will attend Salter School for Medical Assisting in the fall, made her classmates laugh with inside jokes about school life and beloved teachers. The mother of a 3-year-old girl, Alana, Sann has been named Diman's Most Outstanding Student for three consecutive years. She said she never would have become the highest-achieving student in her class without help from family, friends and teachers.
"Our success story is your success story," she said. "Your help and continuous support has managed to give us the freedom to dare, the courage to excel and the belief that we can achieve our best. Even when we'd lost hope, you've always been there to lift us off the ground."
Montleon told the graduates that walking across the stage and flipping their tassels signaled their transition from students to alumni. "Wherever you go, whatever you do, wear that title proudly," she said.
Diman, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, was the other star of the ceremony. Assistant Superintendent-Director Brian Bentley led the crowd in an anniversary song to the tune of "Happy Birthday to You" while sparklers burned on a giant cake and firecrackers lit up the early evening sky behind the stage.
Diman started out as a small woodworking shop in the basement of Fall River's John J. McDunnough School in 1912, moving in the 1940s to a Hartwell Street building and, in the 1960s, to its permanent location on Stonehaven Road. It opened its doors to students from Fall River, Somerset, Swansea, and Westport in the fall of 1968.
Graduates lingered after the ceremony to pose for photos, to walk the grounds one last bittersweet time, to let the clashing emotions wash over them only to change suddenly without notice — much like the weather.
"It feels good to be done," Katelyn Sousa said, her smile yielding to a more contemplative expression. "I'm gonna miss this place. But this is a big accomplishment."
Graduation coverage - Clouds part for Diman graduates at upbeat ceremony, Class of 2012, Top 10 Class of 2012 graduates, 317 seniors graduate from Diman Regional on Thursday
Speeches - Valedictorian, Salutatorian
Go to Diman news.