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Eagle graduates say nontraditional farewell

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Seniors from Groveton High School toss their caps in the air to celebrate on June 14. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
June 27, 2020
GROVETON — Despite restrictions due to Covid-19, the Groveton High School graduation went off without a hitch.

High School Principal Erin Messer said, "When we first spoke to Seniors about their hopes for graduation they had the following two requests. The first was they had an in-person graduation and two, that they could graduate in front of their classmates and families."

Messer explained, "The administration had three different plans in place to adjust as the state and DOE guidelines changed over the months. With the support of Chief Pelletier, local law enforcement agencies, the Groveton Select Board, the Northumberland School Board, and SAU 58 Administration we were able to hold a graduation that exceeded all expectations."

She added, "Although this year's graduation was not traditional it will most definitely be memorable. In order to keep some tradition for the Seniors we had each senior come to school the day before with four guests to walk across the stage in the gymnasium and have the traditional picture taken."

Valedictorian Colleen Murray addressed the crowd.

"We, the Class of 2020, have been together for thirteen years beginning as five- and six-year-olds in Mrs. Wheelock's kindergarten classroom," Murray said. "In about 20 minutes, we will complete our common journey and break off onto our own paths as young men and women."

Murray joked, "My parents have always told me there is a silver lining in every bad situation, and you are the beneficiary of one of these tonight. My original speech was a little over three hours long. However, due to COVID-19, we are required to be more brief. So here's good news: it will be under three minutes."

She continued, "The particular area towards behind me is locally called 'Lost Nation.' Many people believe that, as a country, we are indeed a 'lost nation,' or even more pointedly, a 'nation lost.' This is a time of considerable confusion. The political climate is divisive. There is conflict racially, economically, socially, and in some of our personal lives. My journey to this very moment has had me encounter bumps in the road, but whose experience is without strife?"

"Ernest Hemingway asserted that, 'Courage is grace under pressure.' Our strength comes when we embrace adversity with such courage, and when we receive misfortune and heartache as a chance to grow and show resilience. This will be how we greet the challenges before us individually and as a nation," she said.

Murray told her classmates they have much ahead of them.

"We have much to accomplish," she said. "We stand at the threshold of adulthood with positive anticipation and love in our hearts. In his concession address at the 1980 Democratic Convention, Sen. Ted Kennedy proclaimed 'Tthe work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.' While ending his campaign, he saw it not as a finish line but as a continuation of the journey on a different path. Tonight is not a finish line for us either. The work goes on. We continue our adventure on a novel course."

Lastly, she said, "I am proud to be a graduate of Groveton High School and confidently declare here tonight, to my teachers, the administration, and all my fellow classmates, despite of and because of all we have recently faced, we are prepared. Furthermore, as a class and as a community, we say 'we've got this."

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