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Winnisquam Class of 2019 reflects on achievements

The smiles were bright as Winnisquam Regional High School's Class of 2019 entered the gym last Friday evening for their much anticipated graduation ceremonies. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019
TILTON – "Do what you love and be confident… I hope you follow your pursuit of happiness and find success, because you deserve it," said Julia Connelly, president of Winnisquam Regional High School's Class of 2019, as she welcomed her classmates to their graduation ceremonies last Friday night.

This year, 97 young men and women sat before a packed gymnasium for the final time, listening to words of advice and encouragement from peers, teachers and administrators. They were also lauded for being great role models to younger students, thanked for their community service, and congratulated on the many athletic and musical awards and trophies they won over the past four years.

Salutatorian Gabriela Castrillon praised them, too, for having strength and determination when realizing what it is they want to achieve and working hard to succeed.

"When we want something, we get it. We go after it and don't stop until it's ours," Castrillion said.

Valedictorian Megan Fife revisited some memories of their four years at WRHS and recalled how hard they worked over that time. Thankfully though, she said they also found occasional opportunities to relax, and urged them to remember to take a break now and then in the future, too, to revitalize themselves. Most of all, she told them to always follow their instincts and do what they know is right for them, not someone else.

"More challenges will face us in the future but I'm confident this school has prepared us," Fife said.

This year's keynote speaker, voted on by the class, was English Teacher and Class Advisor Christina Steffen. Steffen said she started her teaching career at the school four years ago, too, and therefore had a very special place in her heart for the class she soon came to know so well. She thanked them for making her job not feel like work and told them that they had also taught her how to become a better educator along the way.

"I am saddened and humbled to see my first 'babies' walk across the stage tonight," she said.

Steffen then said that in wanting to make her speech to them the best possible, she decided to end her time with them the same way she started it on their first day in her class- with Britney Spears quotes.

"I jumped over drama and landed on my feet," she quipped from the song "Outrageous," adding with a laugh, "Hey, you guys voted for this!"

Lacing the rest of her speech with a few words from the "Pop Princess," Steffen had a serious message for them as well. She told them a lot of people were waiting outside the gym door for them to move into the world. Out there they may succeed at times, they may fail at times, but each time they come upon a challenging opportunity she wanted them to remember they are stronger than they think.

"Give 100-percent of your efforts toward your goals and dreams," said Steffen.

She also advised that they go into their future as she did by finding a profession to love, one that is meaningful and won't feel like work.

"But, today's the day to celebrate 'Now.' Take a deep breath and let it sink in," she said, before concluding with one final quote from Britney: "Hold your head high, fingers to the sky!"

Other words came from Superintendent Rob Seaward, who told the Class of 2019, "I wish you the very best as you embark on the path to all you will become. Welcome to the venture."

Dana Giampaolo said he couldn't have asked for a better class in his first year as principal, and that that was all made possible by the parents and loved ones who raised and supported them over the years. He went on to say that as he watched the graduates enter that night he saw competent, capable young people who struggled at times but worked hard and achieved a lot along the way. Most of all however, he saw the future.

"What you all have in common is that you all have potential…This is how you can change the future, by being the best 'you' that you can be," said Giampaolo.

Five additional awards were presented that evening as well. Presented with the Activity Council Award was Mary Rogers, the School Board Community Service Award went to Kathryn Long, and the Athletic Council Award was given to Kobe Briand. Jessica Holt received the Daniel E. Stockwell Educational Award and the 2019 Alfred H. Pucci Award was presented to Kyle Mann.

Music for the evening included the Chamber Choir's performance of "Letting Go" from the musical "Jekyll and Hyde," and the Class Song, "I'll Always Remember You." Besides "Pomp and Circumstance," the Concert Band's presentations were the faculty processional "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," the music selection "Moscow, 1941" and the recessional, "Seven Nation Army."

In his final moments standing before the Class of 2019, Giampaolo concluded that there was nothing more that could be said except, "Go Bears! Class Dismissed."

Garnett Hill
Salmon Press
Garnett Hill
Parker Village
Martin Lord Osman
Northern Human Services
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