n the end it was literally hats off to all 80 graduates when they received their diplomas last Saturday morning. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019BRISTOL – The Newfound Regional High School Class of 2019 said their final farewells to teachers, coaches and school administrators last Saturday morning before heading off to places far and wide where they will continue their education, join the work force or set out to protect freedom and liberty through the military.
Principal Paul Hoiriis said that the community had come together that morning to celebrate a truly remarkable group of people. He noted that they are a class that has demonstrated a strong and consistent commitment to serving the school and their community, not for recognition but simply in the name of the common good. Besides that service above self, he said they have been a thoughtful and affectionate class, always willing to reach out to others.
"Nowhere was this more evident than in our Unified Sports program and our Unified Prom. Your support and acceptance of one another is genuine and inspirational," said Hoiriis. "Continue to understand others as you do now and the world will be better for it. We're counting on you."
Keynote speaker for the ceremony was teacher and class advisor Lori Devost who began by saying said she has watched them grow up and there is no doubt in her mind that they are special. In offering advice to the class, Devost chose to do so through a few quotes for them to remember. First, in the words of Ben Franklin, she told them, "Well done is better than well said." From Thoreau, she quoted, "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving them." And finally, in the words of William Shakespeare she encouraged them to remember, "To thine own self be true."
"You are all good people and everyone of you will contribute to this world," Devost said as she then delivered one last bit of advice. "Listen not to respond, but to understand."
Class President Matt Libby recalled some fond memories of their years together then thanked all who helped them along the path to graduation. He said that from the time they were born, they were each handed a map to follow in their young lives, but last Saturday they had reached the "X" at the end of that route.
"We are free to take whatever path we wish," he said.
He told them of a quote he felt was appropriate to their day. It said in essence that people can use Google to find information, even find a mate, but they can't use the popular search engine to find what's in their hearts.
"Follow where your heart leads you and work hard towards whatever you may love. We can all make a change in this world if we do these two things, as we are the future," said Libby.
Salutatorian Madison Gould urged the class to celebrate their own uniqueness, telling them that those who follow the crowd usually just get lost in it.
"It is important for us to remember that it's okay to stand out," she said. "No, scratch that. It's not just okay; it's amazing!"
The beauty in life, she continued, is that no one but you can decide how you will be unique.
"It's the very fact that we are all different that makes us all so wonderful and special," Gould said.
Quoting Winnie the Pooh's literary friend Piglet, she said, "The things that make me unique are the things that make me me."
Gould said she hoped her words would stay with them in the future, closing with the reminder, "Be proud of who you are, where you came from, and your efforts toward a better future. Go on and 'let your freak fly!'"
Jillian Buchanan's Valedictorian speech contained two key messages for the Class of 2019. First she stressed that they not let others define who they are or who they will become, but to make their own choices for the future; choices that fit their life and their overall goals.
"Life may throw things at you that are difficult but that simply means you need to overcome these obstacles and become a better person for doing so," said Buchanan. "You need to be the one who wants to succeed."
Her second message was that they should never stop learning. A well-educated person, she said, is not only a better person and citizen, they are open to new experiences, taking charge of their life and their education to see and do more.
Leaving them with a final quote that inspired her in the movie, "Legally Blonde," Buchanan said, "'You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.' Remember this, as believing in yourself is the first step to doing great things."
Music for the day was provided by the NRHS band, which performed "Pomp & Circumstance" for both the processional and recessional. Their musical selection for the program was "Bristol Bicentennial March," composed and conducted by NRHS Music Director Edward Judd as a tribute to the town's 200th anniversary this year.
Triplets Deanna, Madison and Mason Martin, members of the Class of 2019, also led off the ceremony with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner in three-part harmony.
In all 80 students graduated from NRHS this year. Of those, 44 will now be headed to either a two- or four-year college, six are entering a tech/trade school program, three will continue with the district's 18-21 year-old program, 20 are joining the work force, one will return to her home country after a year of studying abroad, and six have enlisted in the military.