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Inter-Lakes High School commemorates the class of 2009

Graduates Jillian Claridge, Eliza Berge (senior speaker), Rose Flynn, and Janina Misiewicz (junior class marshal) Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
June 24, 2009
GILFORD — Excited seniors swarmed around the Meadowbrook Musical Arts Theater Sunday night to hug classmates and family before stepping on stage for their final moments with Inter-Lakes High school peers and faculty.

Inter-Lakes High school's 2009 commencement not only highlighted the achievements of its bright young students, but the tight-knit relationships these students made over the years with family, friends, and faculty.

After seniors, decked out in white and blue, marched their way towards center stage with cameras flashing in their eyes, the Inter-Lakes High school concert band kicked off the graduation with the traditional Star-Spangled Banner. Class President, Christopher Joy, and Vice President, Shaylah Kelly welcomed the crowd with a brief message.

"We would like to thank all of our family and friends," said Kelly.

The high school chorus followed the student body officers with the song, "We Are Made for Music" by Joseph M. Martin as graduating senior speaker, Melissa Otis, made her way on stage.

"What have we really learned? What will we take with us," Otis asked the senior class.

"I learned the first lesson: balance…work hard, but have fun doing it. This equilibrium is the key to happiness."

Otis ended her motivating speech with a final comment for her peers. "I'm so proud to be a part of this group of young men and women."

The concert band concluded Otis's speech with the song, "Dynasty" by Jason K. Nitsch.

As senior speaker, and class secretary, Eliza Berg walked on stage with words of wisdom for her class.

Berg explained that she had studied Buddhism at St. Paul and learned the importance of "mindfulness."

"What do we miss in this hyper-speed?" asked Berg. "In Buddhist terms, I was breaking all of the rules. I hope you enjoy these moments without the worries of tomorrow."

Berg told her class that the most essential element of life, for her, is to "be in the moment."

The Senior Chamber singers then sang together for the last time, and the final senior speaker, Molly Stevens, came on stage to talk about the importance of family and friends.

"No matter how we've grown or changed, we have our family…the value of friendship is a lesson I'm glad I learned early. Congratulations class of 2009, welcome home," said Stevens as seniors cheered.

The crowd roared even more as commencement speaker, Inter-Lakes High School guidance counselor, Brian Sutherland, walked on stage.

"I don't believe I'll ever have a captive audience this large again, so please indulge me for a moment," said Sutherland. "It means so much to me, to be here addressing you. I don't claim to have the answers, but I do have twenty years on you."

Sutherland held up a back-pack filled with survival essentials, and explained that he had five "essentials" for the graduating class.

"It is vital to escape in nature," said Sutherland, "that is the first essential."

Sutherland's second essential was to "stay informed," and his third essential, to buy a watch.

"You should all buy a watch, to respect the time that you are given," said Sutherland. "My fourth essential, get a notebook or a journal, and keep writing throughout your life."

Sutherland's fifth and final essential tied into the next commencement speaker, Katie O'Connell's speech.

"Life moves fast. Whenever possible, find ways to laugh and smile."

The final speaker, O'Connell, was an English teacher for eight years at Inter-Lakes who is now retiring to pursue her own dreams, and encouraged her former students to do the same.

"Believe that you deserve to love and be loved. That you will be fortunate, better yet, that you are already fortunate. And that kind of life will bring your dreams to you."

O'Connell left the senior class of 2009 with final words of advice, based on her own experiences. "Pick up the reins and give your dreams a boot."

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