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Class of 2010 graduates in harmonious celebration

Emily Roy, Julia Kallmerten, Shelby Howard, and Casey McNutt said one last goodbye to their friends at Gilford High School. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
June 16, 2010
Having shared years of their lives together, Gilford High School graduates said tearful goodbyes but welcomed the future with open arms at their commencement ceremony Saturday.

The GHS band started off the commencement ceremony with the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance," while the Marshalls, 2011 Vice President Curt Chapin and Treasurer Norman Harris, led the graduating students down the aisle.

Class President Bristol Whitcher welcomed students, faculty, friends and family to commencement day at the U.S. Cellular Meadowbrook Pavilion. Whitcher almost broke out in tears during the course of her speech, thanking her family for the support and the life lessons and her fellow students for the memories they have given her.

"Much of this class has been together since middle school – even kindergarten or pre-school for some – yet everyone is so individual," said Whitcher. "Even though things have changed, we have managed to stay close and harmonious in nature."

She said this diversity between students due to their variation of skills and activities has helped peers bond together, support, and learn from one another, which made saying goodbye and going their separate ways especially hard.

"Good luck 2010. I am not the only one who will miss you," said Whitcher in her closing statement.

After class treasurer Patrick Donohue announced the 2010 class gift this year, a flourishing of flowers recently planted on school grounds, Salutatorian Brienna Tomlinson gave her address.

When planning for college and carefully constructing her future, Tomlinson said she became overwhelmed for a moment, until her younger sister asked her a question.

"Why do the decisions we make for the future seem more important than the future itself?" said Tomlinson, quoting her sister.

Tomlinson said she realized that decisions are important, but what matters even more so is what you do afterward with the decisions you have made.

Graduating seniors Tiffani Hemcher, Matthew Livernois, Bailey Ramsdell, Travis Ritson, and Sarah Watson sang the musical selection "My Wish," by Steve Robson and Jeffrey Steele, accompanied by Patrick Altmire on drums, Kevin Hackett on bass, and Dennis Willgoose on guitar, and were followed by the valedictorian's fitting address.

"You don't get harmony when everyone sings the same note," said Brittany Colbath, quoting Doug Floyd.

When keynote speaker and GHS art teacher Leaman Antone took the stage, he turned the podium toward the audience he was truly speaking to – the graduates.

"What is next?" asked Antone. "People ask you this not only because they want an answer, but because they are interested in you."

Antone said it is not always an easy question to answer, since times change fast, and people cannot always predict the future, yet it is something worth pondering on.

When he was in the graduating class's position, he said he was also confused about what to do next and ended up traveling to South America with a one-way ticket. Although it took him years to find his calling, the time was right when he did.

"Don't obey," said Antone. "You need to find a way for you – your path and your middle ground. You need to do things that are fun. No doctor or scientist has ever proven that life is supposed to be taken seriously."

Antone told the graduating class that although it is a bittersweet feeling to let go of their days at GHS, and that memories are important, it is also important to be ready to move on and make the next few steps in life.

"Be ready to accept this and move on. I want you to hold on to your memories forever, and be a child inside your heart. Don't be nervous, be excited about it," said Antone.

He said he could sympathize with their current mixed feelings and confusion, and said it is up most important to figure out what exactly it is that interests them, and perhaps that will someday be their calling.

"There is no one smarter or better than you, but there are people who have interests. There is something inside of each and every one of you, that makes you tick," said Antone. "I teach because you interest me."

Before awarding the graduates with their diplomas, Assistant Principal Peter Sawyer announced that the commencement was being broadcasted live on the Internet this year, so that Dr. Sam Aldridge currently serving in Afghanistan, could watch his son Andrew graduate.

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