ANDREW MCCALL, Kingswood Regional High School's top ranking Gold Scholar, addresses his classmates and a full auditorium of well wishers during Commencement last Saturday, June 14. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
June 19, 2014WOLFEBORO — On June 14, Graduation Day, Commencement speaker Terrie Rogers Morgan reminded the 177 members of the Class of 2014 seated on the stage of the Kingswood Arts Center that Kingswood Regional High School's Golden Jubilee year begins with them.
It is also the last graduating class to have attended classes in both the old school and the new, said the highest ranking Gold Scholar, Andrew McCall.
Commencement marks a transition, not only for students, but also for their families and friends, who gather together to both reminisce about the past and imagine the future. The two top ranking Gold Scholars Lily Greene and Andrew McCall shared the thoughts on many graduates' minds as they disband and venture forth on their individual pathways.
The ceremony began at 10 a.m. with Class Marshals Dylan Tarbox and Allie Campbell leading their classmates down the aisle an onto the stage to the ever-poignant "Pomp and Circumstance" performed by the Kingswood Symphonic Band.
Seniors Julia St. Germain, Laura Blocher, Alec Kalled and Elizabeth Nelson led the invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the National Anthem respectively at the start, and Casey Sargent and Rachel Lapar enthusiastically welcomed the audience.
Governor Wentworth Regional School District School Board Chairman Charlene Seibel, mother of three Kingswood alumna, opened the graduation ceremony with presentations to Greene and McCall.
She told the audience first that all students reaching scholar status, whether it be Green and White, Silver or Gold, are "students in good standing, who have met academic challenges and have served their school and community. I am very proud of the entire Class of 2014, which has an impressive total of 3,949 hours of community service to its credit!"
The Gold Scholars in particular, 15 in all, earn that status by "obtaining a minimum GPA of 3.4, scoring proficient or higher on state achievement tests and obtaining strong SAT scores. They have enrolled in honors level classes, and have taken a minimum of three advanced placement classes or two advanced placement classes along with the rigorous junior/senior honors program. Gold Scholars also participate in a minimum of two extra- curricular activities and a minimum 10 hours of community service."
The top two scholars, she pointed out, have together taken a total of 33 advanced placement and honors courses, engaged in nine leadership activities and contributed 241 hours of community service.
Greene told her classmates that they have become like family, reflecting, "We are all standing in front of different trailheads, about to embark on our own journey of walking that for the first time in our lives, doesn't include each other."
She spoke of uncertainty: "We are all about to walk into the unknown, and no matter how confident any one of us may be about what lies ahead, we also can't help feeling wary. We really don't know what lies ahead. We will work hard for success, and we will hope for happiness and peace of mind, but there is no guarantee in life."
And she advised her peers to "keep walking forward" when encountering life's inevitable obstacles, failures and pain. She concluded, "Class of 2014, Let's Take a Walk."
McCall commented that their memories "all stem from an epicenter. Four years. One collective meeting place: Kingswood High School…Whatever it is you do…, do so with no regret and do so remembering where you came from. We will forever be Knights. We will always have that in common."
He referenced the words of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President Abraham Lincoln and even Forrest Gump early in his speech and finished with, "I say we look at those who had dreams big enough to span the nation, and we take their advice. Let's go to the moon, let's have a dream, let's conquer fear, let's remember the days that will live in infamy, let's collect our inches and let's realize that it ain't about how hard we're hit; it's about how hard we get hit and keep moving forward."
"I wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck, and in the words of Dale Carnegie, 'Remember, today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday'. In the words of Forrest Gump, 'That is all I have to say about that.'"
Commencement speaker Terrie Rogers Morgan, retiring after teaching at Kingswood for 37 years, thanked "the board and the community for the opportunity I have had to serve and be part of the incredible process of educating students. I know this class before you will make a positive impact upon our country and that we have indeed made a tremendous investment."
Saying that it was finally time for her to graduate, she added, "I cannot think of a better group to graduate with…. Class of 2014, I will always remember you as a class with a good heart, loving, accepting of others. Others have described you as enthusiastic, talented, fun, friendly and supportive—all good things to be sure...Thank you."
It was a morning of tears, expressions of gratitude, and cheers for the Class of 2014 as parents pressed forward, cameras flashing, during the granting of diplomas. The band struck up Pomp and Circumstance once again, this time for the recessional out of the auditorium and into the future.