NEWPORT - Approximately 235 students graduated from North Country Union High School in the 45th commencement ceremony Saturday. Although skies were blue without a cloud in sight, the uncertain weather forecast prompted plans for an indoor event.
Principal William Rivard talked about students experiencing the joys of success and sadness of loss through their high school years. He said the graduates have developed relationships with many who will continue to make a positive difference in their lives as they go into the world and make a positive difference for others.
Salutatorian Michael Gosselin joined NCUHS his junior year, coming from Untied Christian Academy. He found a better school than he expected, he said, with excellent teachers and staff and many new friends.
He was “stunned” by the opportunities at North Country.
But Gosselin said he was not going to make a sappy, typical graduation speech with metaphors and over-inflated school spirit and jargon. Instead, he used humor to clear up some rumors.
Before coming to NCUHS, Gosselin said, he heard some interesting and even some frightening things about the school. But after gaining experience and his own perspective, he wanted to “clarify everything.”
“Mr. Rivard does not play solitaire on his iPad, though the investigation continues.”
“The auditorium really is falling apart, and a family of frogs does in fact inhabit its walls.... Really, I’m not kidding.”
“An overdue library book does in fact give Ms. Ellam the right to make a citizen’s arrest.”
And on teachers he joked, “Mr. Wing does, in fact, match his shoes to his watch.”
Valedictorian Avery Parsons-Grayson held up her planners from the past four years and said she had recorded not only academics information in them but quotes from students. She joked that most were inappropriate to repeat, but she read a few of the more appropriate ones. She said she will always take them with her wherever she goes. “I will never throw these away.”
Class President Molly Manning told her fellow graduates that although it’s time to step forward without the same supports from parents and teachers as before, North Country has prepared students. “We can be comforted that North Country High School has taught us the value of making the right choices.”
The faculty address from Lonnie Wade received a standing ovation from students. “Be honest with yourself and others," he stated. He encouraged graduates to stay focused and be guided by their values. “Remember character.” Don’t be afraid to tell someone you love them when you do, he said, adding apologize when you’re wrong and don’t do it again. Learn to forgive, he said, and don’t harbor ill will. “Life is too short.”
“We will miss you more than you know. And remember the doors are always open.”
The graduates emerged from the building and gathered on the lawns of the school where they were greeted with hugs from friends and family members.