Happy graduate Kristy Verrill receives a sunflower and smiles from Class advisors James Wares and Karen Godfrey as she steps off the stage after receiving her diploma. (Photo by Elissa Paquette) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019WOLFEBORO — Graduations mark the last time classmates are able to stand together as one and reflect on their shared experiences before advancing on their separate journeys. On Saturday, June 15, Kingswood Regional High School's Class of 2019, led by Class Marshalls Nikole Grondin and Kolbe Maganzini, processed to their places by the stadium stage to "Pomp and Circumstance," performed by the Symphonic Band.
Members of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District's board watched proudly from the dais as the Class of 2019 marched forward, eager to greet the conclusion of their school years with a hard earned diploma. The Concert Chorus led the program with a rendition of the National Anthem setting the tone for the poignant ceremony to follow.
Senior Class President Charlie Arinello greeted his teachers, classmates and the audience with gratitude, and described the class as "a very talented family with lots of different strengths and skills. We have students in our class who can do math that high schoolers have no business doing, students who can fix your car, studetns who can act, sing, play instruments, students who excel in sports and athleticism." He spoke of high points and low points that the class "had to push past" and the growth that generated.
Gold Scholar speaker Rebecca Connelly, too, commended faculty, family and friends.
"Faculty, you taught, guided, mentored. You have given us the tools to go forward," said Connelly, adding that as for family and friends, "[Y]ou let us stand on your shoulders to reach this pinnacle. This, too, is your success."
Connelly paid homage to international war journalist and Kingswood alumnus James Foley, who was captured and eventually killed by ISIS. She described Foley as dedicated "to telling the story of the voiceless" and encouraged her classmates: "Step out with moral fortitude in our hearts and a foot of kindness first – treating people not how we want to be treated but how they want to be treated...I wish you all genuine success, which is to love and be loved throughout your lives ...be your perfect self and make a difference in your own special way."
It was then Top Gold Scholar Kaitlin Miller's turn to address her classmates. Miller spoke sincerely of her rise from her low performing early years to the top student she became by learning to ask for help and then putting in the effort.
"I truly think all of you have the ability to succeed in whatever you do," said Miller. "It just takes a little something different for each of us."
In her view, everyone can do great things with effort, the desire to learn, and the yearning for growth.
"You are brilliant, all of you, as long as you want to be," she told her peers.
English teacher Katherine St. Hilaire, chosen by the senior class to give a commencement speech, spoke with self-deprecating humor of her fears, including public speaking.
"Put me in front of my peers, or say hundreds of people, and I freeze up, panic, lose my ability to rationally think. So… you may be asking, 'How is she speaking or even standing right now?'" said Hilaire.
The answer? "I can only attribute it to one thing. I love my job and more importantly I love
my students. I'm honored by their appreciation of me and awed at them and their accomplishments over the past four years.
"So, apparently if you care enough about something or someone you can mentally overcome. Find a motivation and follow-through based on what really matters. I said yes. I refused to allow myself to miss out on an opportunity to stand here and express how proud I am of all of you. I refused to fail you."
Hilaire told the students, "We have become a reactive society, but your generation holds
the power to look at things differently and find different approaches. Model the world you would like to live in, and people will follow."
She concluded, "I have watched so many of you overcome obstacles in your path to where you are today, but you did it. Imagine what else you can do."
A total of 172 students were granted diplomas on June 15, including a diploma reserved for 17 year old Ramsie Taylor, who was killed Sept. 26, 2018 in a car crash on Route 28 at the Ossipee Village intersection. Ramsie's sister walked across the stage in her absence to collect the diploma.