The Groveton High School graduating class of 2013: Sally Lewis, Adam Atkinson, Angelica Monroe, Ashley Mundell, Beau Perras, Benjamin Rich, Bobbi Jo Cammons, Christopher Helms, Danielle Hopps, Erica Langkau, Ethan Marshall, Jake Forbush, Jennifer Routhier, Jessica Russell, Kailene Laundry, Katelyn Hawes, Kyle Rainville, Makenna Burke, Marrie Rachlen, Meagan Keddy, Nathan Fogg and Preston Bennett. Missing from photo was Richard Gokey. Photo by Jonathan Benton. (click for larger version)
June 12, 2013GROVETON — Groveton High School graduated 23 students at their graduation ceremony on Friday and each one of them will have to find a way to be successful in life, but it looks like valedictorian Erica Langkau already knows that secret — passion.
From her valedictory speech it sounded like Langkau had grown up a little faster then most in her four years at GHS.
"We all make judgments every single day when we have no idea what goes on in someone's personal life," said Langkau. "I can truthfully say that I think I have been on the receiving and giving side of this cruel reality. My high school years challenged me with dealing with situations like these, ending in the feeling that I had nobody to turn to in school, and nobody to talk to about my problems at home. But the way I managed to make it here today was because of what I am so passionate about."
What gives a person the drive to go on, to get through it all is different or everyone, but for Langkau it was a 1,000 pound four-legged friend named Flicka.
"I rescued my horse, Everlasting Flicka, on June 10, 2009 when I was 14-years-old. Flicka was 200 pounds underweight, coated in lice, her hooves were a mess, she was aggressive and what we didn't know was that she was only three-years-old and pregnant."
People told her that rescuing the animal wasn't a good idea and Langkau even broke her shoulder while attempting to train Flicka, but like her first time falling off a horse she got back on and didn't give up.
"[Flicka] proved to be my driving force to go home and take my frustration out on my homework and succeed so that I could always take care of her," said Langkau. "The point I am trying to make here today is that it is so so so important to find something in life that you are passionate about."
Langkau was accepted to Cazenovia College in New York with a full tuition scholarship and will be bringing her horse with her.
The Salutatorian speech given by Kailene Laundry had a similar message of picking one-self back up during hard times, specifically the loss of her late "Mammie", and derived some friendly advice from a children's book about trains that her mom brought to her.
"As I continued to read I could hear my Mammie narrating the story, her lessons were coming back to me," said Laundry. "It reminded me that I have decisions to make and my plan in life is yet to be chosen or set in stone. Times will get rough, but there are no permanent problems. It's important to be happy with who I am and not wish to be anyone else."
She ended the speech with a quote from the book I knew you could by Craig Dorfman. "Different tracks wind around, over, under, and through, so pick out the one that works best for you. Though the track you start out on will feel like 'the one', you might take a few more before you are done. And now with your eyes on your new destination, start up your wheels and roll out of the station."
The Third Honors Address went to Ashley Mundell who was also dealing with the loss of her grandmother. That loss helped her realize that time is fleeting just like her past four years at GHS and that she plans on taking advantage of the time she is given from here on in.
"I have learned that life is what you make out of it," said Mundell. "I am what I believe is the fifth generation to graduate or grow up here and even though we all know this area certainly has struggled, I am very proud to say that this is my home and I have had the opportunity that I have. I will be moving on to nursing school where life is truly the main focus."