The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

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O’Connor graduates CAP, leaves a legacy of joy

Algonquin+Principal+Sean+Bevan+presents+CAP+Graduate+Jack+OConnor+with+his+diploma+on+June+12.
Laura White
Algonquin Principal Sean Bevan presents CAP Graduate Jack O’Connor with his diploma on June 12.

With the same smile that has bettered the lives of his friends, family and teachers for years, postgraduate Jack O’Connor graduated from the Community Access Program (CAP) on June 12.

Principal Sean Bevan and others close to Jack O’Connor spoke at the ceremony. Following their remarks, a slideshow showcasing moments from O’Connor’s life brought tears to the eyes of many. However, O’Connor’s frequent laughs and comments about the images lightened the mood, making it hard to stay sad for long.

O’Connor had been a member of CAP starting his sophomore year at Algonquin. Special Education teacher Caitlyn Hynes commented on the transformation he has undergone.

“When Jack came to me as a student in his sophomore year, he was very quiet and wasn’t confident in his communication,” Hynes said. “Now, he wants to be part of conversations. He’s initiating; he’s jumping in. It’s been really nice to see that growth.”

Everyone loves seeing Jack show up at school every day. He comes in with a big smile, and he yells ‘hi’, and he wants to hug and high five and fist bump all his friends and his teachers. It’s hard to be around that energy and not feel happier yourself.

— Special Education teacher Caitlyn Hynes

O’Connor’s infectious personality has made the program a better place for those involved. 

“Everyone loves seeing Jack show up at school every day,” Hynes said. “He comes in with a big smile, and he yells ‘hi’, and he wants to hug and high five and fist bump all his friends and his teachers. It’s hard to be around that energy and not feel happier yourself.”

Speech Language Pathologist Lisa Pagan shares Hynes’ sentiment.

“Jack was not always very talkative when I met him, and he just grew in confidence throughout the years and began talking more and more to the point where he greets me every single morning,” Pagan said. “He has just become such a talkative, great friend, and he engages with everybody. He’s the hype man of our classroom.”

The positive influence O’Connor has had on those around him is unmistakable.

“We’re going to miss him so much, I’m trying not to cry,” Pagan said. “He’s just an awesome addition to our class, he’s an awesome person and a great friend. I’m going to miss his constant comments and all the fun we’ve had together.”

O’Connor’s buddy through the Best Buddies program, junior Paige Kelsey, spoke to their relationship.

“[I’ll miss] his energy and his presence,” Kelsey said. “I would see him in the cafeteria and he’d always call out my name with a big smile on his face and it instantly made my day better. [I’d have a] bad math test then I’d see Jack and it would all go away. I’ll just miss seeing him around.”

O’Connor’s parents, along with his two younger brothers, celebrated his achievement. His mother, Johanna O’Connor, recognized the positive influence the program has had on his life.

“He’s grown significantly,” Johanna O’Connor said. “Even in the last few years here at Algonquin, when he moved to the CAP program, his verbal language kind of exploded and his social skills skyrocketed.”

Algonquin Principal Sean Bevan presents CAP Graduate Jack O’Connor with his diploma on June 12. (Laura White)

Furthermore, she reflected on the special impact of the ceremony. 

“Jack has been in the public school system since he was three, and he’s had a lot of these specialists and CAP classmates with him since he was in pre-school,” Johanna O’Connor said. “It was amazing to see the whole journey now that he’s 22. Algonquin has been a wonderful place for him; we’re just very thankful for everything.”

As for what comes next for O’Connor, it’s evident that his love for people, sports and his community will serve him well. He was involved in Unified Track and Best Buddies and enjoys playing badminton and watching Formula 1 racing. His father Mark O’Connor added that he will stay busy in addition to these pursuits.

“There’s a lot of things he’s passionate about so if we can direct that into something that’s job-related I think that would be great,” Mark O’Connor said.

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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

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About the Contributors
Laney Halsey
Laney Halsey, Editor-in-Chief
Laney took Journalism her junior year and has since become an Editor-in-Chief. One of her favorite things about working on the Harbinger is being able to share her writing with the community. In her free time, Laney enjoys playing field hockey, track and the saxophone as well as hanging out with her friends.
Laura White
Laura White, Visual Editor
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