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Moultonboro Class of 2009 grads toss their caps

The Moultonboro Academy Class of 2009 stands for the national anthem. Sarah Schmidt. (click for larger version)
June 17, 2009
MOULTONBORO — Fifty-four young adults tossed their caps and prepared for the next stage in their lives at the Class of 2009's graduation at Moultonboro Academy.

Decked out in red and black gowns, seniors promenaded down the auditorium aisle before the eyes and camera lenses of their families and friends. For graduates, this ceremony marked the end of their high school career and their entrance into greater responsibilities.

"I'm really happy it's here, but it's bittersweet," said graduate Meg Welzenbach. "I'm going to a four-year college in Rochester, N.Y."

Though most graduations have valedictorian and salutatorian students speak to their class, the Moultonboro Academy Class of 2009 had two seniors sharing the honor of valedictorian. Co-valedictorians Abigail Horne and Taylor Joyce each delivered speeches to their class that drew laughter and applause.

Joyce made the audience laugh with telling her frustrations in trying to figure out what to write. Her mother told her to keep her shoulders back, other students "offered me money" to mention their names, and she had to stay clear of "Family Guy" references, so as not to steal the thunder of guest speaker (and "Family Guy" fan) Casper Crouse. Instead, she reached back into some of her favorite memories of her classmates.

"It's important to know how much we've grown since ninth grade - you know, back when Nate Lacey was beardless," she said, drawing laughs. "We're now sent out to cope on our own. We were still subject to the rules of our parents, to the guidance of our coaches and teachers.

"But now, not only has Nate Lacey grown a beard, but others have beard-growing contests."

Joyce reminded her classmates that they might have taken a backseat to their lives in the past, but "now we're driving."

Besides the processional music of "Pomp and Circumstance," the performance of "I Hope You Dance" by underclassman Sarah Paradise drew an emotional response. Overcome by emotion, she was encouraged on by the applause of the audience to finish the song. After the song, she shared a hug with her graduating older sister, Sadie Paradise.

Eric Moriarty, the Class of 2009 treasurer, presented the class's gift to the school - $1,000 for a sign on the Moultonboro Academy grounds that will say "Welcome to Panther Country," a nod to the school's mascot.

Horne delivered the next co-valedictorian address. Though she admitted to not knowing what to say to the class, she quoted General Robert E. Lee, a founder of the Washington and Lee University, as someone who was also poised on the brink of a changing world. Horne will attend Washington and Lee University later this year.

"It is for you to decide your own destiny, freely and without restraint," said Horne, quoting Lee. "He (Lee) could not see how much his world would change. Today our country faces situations, like a near-total meltdown in the economy. Just as the South lost dominance with cotton, we lose dominance with manufacturing. We are both standing on the brink of a new way of life, and we must choose our destiny."

Guest speaker and Moultonboro Academy teacher Crouse told the audience (especially Joyce) that he did consider quoting "Family Guy," but still had a few years left to do so. Chatting about other memorable graduation speeches and telling a little bit about his life, Crouse kept the graduates and the audience laughing.

"Thank you for pointing out that I'm in my 25th year of teaching at Moultonboro Academy," said Crouse, referring to a "historical perspective" given as his introduction by students Peter Lyons and Marie Costanza. "I'm honestly thinking more about me leaving than you leaving."

With hugs for Principal Andrew Coppinger and School Board Chair Laurie Whitley, the Class of 2009 received their diplomas and turned their caps, ready for a day of celebrations with friends and family.

"I'm pretty excited, a little nervous, too," said graduate Richie Alomar, who will head to Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts later this year. "This was a day I was really anxious for, and it came really quickly."

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