COMMENCEMENT speaker Mark Anthony, with a backing band of fellow teachers, entertains the audience and, judging by the smiles, the Class of 2015, during Friday's graduation ceremony. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 17, 2015ALTON — On Friday, June 12, the Prospect Mountain High School auditorium was buzzing with excitement as family and friends awaited the commencement ceremony for the class of 2015.
The class members marched in, many with their individually decorated graduation caps expressing a bit of their unique personality.
Once in place, members of the senior class played "The Star Spangled Banner" as the audience stood.
Principal J. Fitzpatrick welcomed students, guests and school board members to graduation. He also took a moment to recognize there were six students whose parent or grandparent had worked for the school in some capacity and allowed those students time to run into the audience, giving their family members a rose in appreciation.
He also recognized and thanked family and consumer sciences teacher Jane Smith, a former teacher of the year who is retiring from PMHS.
Fitzpatrick also asked members of the graduating class, who had enlisted in the armed forces to stand and be recognized. The audience demonstrated patriotism is alive in New Hampshire by giving these students a hearty and long standing ovation.
Fitzpatrick teased the graduating class a bit for their mastery of procrastination, but then praised them saying, "When you do something, you do it extremely well."
He also noted this is the "most decorated class in the history of PMHS," and listed their many amazing accomplishments including recognizing Laura Fraser as the only student to be president of her class for all four year at PMHS.
He also recognized individuals for their athletic achievements, one of which was being the first state soccer champions in PMHS history and for their individual achievements including the publishing of a history book, being robotics champions for two years, writing their own orchestral piece, earning gold and silver keys for scholastic art awards and passing their LNA exams.
Fitzpatrick also recognized this class as the first to graduate from PMHS with community service as a requirement and remarked on the amazing achievement of graduate Nicole Richardson, who is leaving high school with an entire first year of college completed.
In the end, he stated the class of 2015 is a terrific class who is kind to each other and supportive of one another.
"Wow, you're an impressive group. I marvel at your accomplishments in and out of the school," said Eunice Landry, chairman of the PMHS board, who also made some opening remarks.
She encouraged the class to set goals, dream, and to keep raising expectations for themselves.
"Thank you for being who you are, and I wish you the best," said Landry.
PMHS's 2015 Salutatorian, Arianna Jessica Libenson, was introduced by Fitzpatrick as a talented artist who in addition to being involved in many clubs including National Honor Society, also took AP art and chemistry this year.
Libenson, who is graduating with a GPA of 5.52 on a 5.8 scale and will be attending Ithaca College in the fall, told her classmates "time is constant and its passing is inevitable, what we do with it is important."
She recognized how lucky she and her classmates were to be graduating from PMHS as a part of this class and was thankful for the dedication and teamwork she and her classmates have "poured into everything we do."
Libenson thanked the community and school, even the freshman class for their support.
"Four years ago I had no idea how proud I'd be to graduate from PMHS with the best class they've had," said Libenson.
She advised her classmates to have adventures and make mistakes and Libenson quoted Anne Frank saying, "The good news is you don't know how great you can be. How much you can love."
This year's Valedictorian, Hannah Olivia DeRoche, was introduced by Fitzpatrick as a talented dancer and gymnast, who is the 2015 state champion on the beam.
DeRoche, who is graduating with a 5.78 GPA, has taken five AP classes, four of them this year and is described by her teachers, according to Fitzpatrick, as motivated and driven, understanding what it means to be a good student.
DeRoche, who will be attending Brandeis University in the fall, told her classmates, "The true meaning of this diploma is what you make of it."
"My entire life I've been chasing perfection," said DeRoche who then noted perfection is a "tricky goal."
"I see now the journey is just as important as the end goal," stated DeRoche.
She recognized there are "people all over the world who wish they could have received the education we've had," and not just in poverty stricken areas said DeRoche, but local people too.
She encouraged her classmates and herself to remember their weaknesses and to find ways to improve.
DeRoche recognized graduating as being also sad as they leave behind their teenage years and she cautioned those who are anxious to leave to "remember where you come from," encouraging them to come back in future years with stories to tell that will inspire others.
Fitzpatrick introduced Fraser, the Senior Class President, as someone who has made unparalleled contributions to the school, noting he will be sad to see her leave.
Fraser had her classmates stand as she recognized them for their various accomplishments and participation in activities including being part of the state soccer championship, lip sync groups and impersonating Santa Clause at this year's pancake breakfast and many more.
She then pointed out to her class that these accomplishments were times when they were not afraid to take risks or to fail.
Fraser stated, "When you love what you do you are confident and when you are confident you take risks."
She encouraged her classmates to not back away from challenges, but rather to see them as defining moments.
Fraser also wanted her classmates to remember two things as they move forward into life. First, she told them it is okay to fail and that failure is just a learning experience. Second, Fraser told the graduating class, "You have a place and a community of people you can always come back to."
"I thank you for letting me be your president. I beg you never stop taking risks," said Fraser before receiving a standing ovation from her classmates.
Senior class advisors Cathy Fraser, Mark Anthony and Christopher Reeves also briefly addressed the graduating class.
Anthony stated he was thankful for the homeroom he has had comprised from some of these students over the past four years. He also recognized the integrity and character present among these individuals.
Reeves praised the group for not being afraid to take risks, "you are unguarded, you aren't afraid to be you," said Reeves noting he will keep his gray hair as a reminder of this class.
Fraser recognized the graduates as having noteworthy and remarkable qualities, and for making a difference in the state of New Hampshire.
Fraser told them she looks forward to reading great things about them as they make their way in the world.
The keynote speaker chosen by the class of 2015 was Anthony, who was jokingly introduced by Fitzpatrick as "everyone's favorite health teacher, he is the only one."
Anthony told the class of 2015 he was there to speak to them about winning and whining.
He told them as they go through life they can whine or they can focus on the positive.
"The school," said Anthony, "had given you the tools to be a winner."
He recognized things in life will not always go the way the graduates want them to, but it is how these young people handle the disappointments that is important.
Anthony encouraged the graduates to cherish moments with friends and family, "because that's what winners do."
He recognized the most important characteristics of winners as cheerfulness, with loveable and admirable qualities.
Anthony told the parents and guardians in the audience that these students have been a "complete joy to work with" and that they all have "decent moral values."
He encouraged the students when they leave the protection of their homes to remember they are winners.
Anthony then proceeded to sing "The Winner Song" for the graduating class accompanied by several other teachers on instruments.
Superintendent Robert Cullison then had the honor to certify this graduating class as meeting all of the standards of NH and authorizing the distribution of diplomas.
Prospect Mountain High School Class of 2015
Martin Sebastian Azaola
Paige St. Martin
Garrett St. Laurent