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Speakers encourage Class of 2011 to live for today

Mackenzie Keefe smiles as she makes it up to the stage at Meadowbrook last Saturday for the 2011 GHS Commencement. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
June 15, 2011
During Gilford High School's 2011 Commencement celebration, graduating seniors bid farewell not only to their peers, but to their principal for the last four years.

The graduation was a milestone for GHS Principal Ken Wiswell, who will retire this coming school year, and also for his students, who are moving on to jobs and universities scattered throughout New England and the country.

This year, high school officers urged their fellow graduating seniors to look towards the future with optimism, but also asked their peers to live in the present, and enjoy the journey along the way, without putting all the emphasis on the final destination.

Graduating senior and foreign exchange student Hendrik Andreas Lindemann of Germany was acknowledged at this year’s Commencement. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
The 2011 class president, Caitlyn Cennamo, welcomed the crowd and the 117 seniors in the audience at Meadowbrook last Saturday.

"We are all excited to finally be here, and thankful for those supporting us today. We have known each other for many years, and even joining with Gilmanton has not felt new or different in the past four years. It feels that it has always been this way," said Cennamo. "We've come a long way together. The future holds infinite possibilities."

After listing off all the accomplishments and organizations seniors were involved with this past school year, class treasurer Norman Harris presented the 2011 class gift, a bench which will sit in the lobby this fall, and which is inscribed with each senior's name. The class has also donated $2,000 to the next class, and to the Sawyer and Hanover families in the Gilford community.

During his address, Salutatorian Cameron Graaskamp said he has reflected on his high school career for the past few days, from friendships, to accomplishments, to struggles.

Senior Bethany Clarke marches towards the stage last Saturday in anticipation of graduation. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
"I couldn't stop thinking about tomorrow, and had constant thoughts geared towards tomorrow, for tomorrow has grown even strong, and eventually tomorrow became today," said Graaskamp. "At times, you can't always wait for tomorrow, and must live for today."

He urged the class of 2011 to take action, and to never put their life on hold, but take the present by the horns.

GHS senior Alysa Hemcher is only moments way from graduating as she heads towards the stage at Meadowbrook. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
"There will always be an infinite number of tomorrows, yet there is only one today, and it starts right now," said Graaskamp.

The salutatorian's address was followed by a touching song, "You Raise Me Up," by Rolf Loveland and Brendan Graham, and performed by 12 seniors.

Keynote speaker, GHS Principal Ken Wiswell, plans to retire this school year. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
Valedictorian Cennamo also encouraged her fellow students to look towards the future with optimism during her address, and asked them to appreciate the present, especially their graduation day.

"I could tell you to look forward towards your future, but how is anyone expected to look forward from here? I could give you advice, yet I've come to the conclusion that sharing advice is not helpful until you can actually apply it," said Cennamo. "Adults tell us to live our lives, live for today, and enjoy our youth."

A graduating senior of the 2011 class smiles brightly after receiving her diploma. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
Cennamo went on to say that while knowledge can be conveyed, wisdom can only be found and lived, but it cannot be expressed or taught through words.

"In the meantime, get out there and experience life. It's the only way to grow. New experiences are mildly frightening since they are the unknown, so do something that scares you a little bit every day," said Cennamo. "Worrying is time lost, and no one needs to waste any of this precious time we've been allotted on this earth. I'd rather have you grab hold of your future and experience it. Congratulations, class of 2011."

Mackenzie Keefe shakes hands with administration and receives her diploma last Saturday. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
Wiswell followed the valedictorian's address as the keynote speaker this year, and informed the crowd that he is moving to St. Thomas, Ky. to spend time with his family and watch his grandchildren grow up.

"After 40 years in education, you think I'd be at ease talking to students," said Wiswell. "This is an outstanding graduating class with a variety of different talents, which has left a wonderful imprint on GHS."

Carson Quigley smiles as she shakes hands with School Board Chair Kurt Webber. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
While he noted that Friday was a big day for graduating seniors; after the commencement, Wiswell planned to attend his 40th college reunion on Saturday.

"My wife and I are also excited for our new journey in life," said Wiswell, who expressed that it is important to take every opportunity to enjoy what you've been given in life, especially family, as you get older.

He said he hoped his seniors would leave GHS with confidence and turn their knowledge into action.

"We cannot let fear paralyze us. In order to succeed, we must take a big leap of faith and leap into that wheelbarrow," said Wiswell, referring to his anecdote. "It is not your ability, but your doubt that will hold you back."

He left his students with a quote by Henry David Thoreau: "Go confidently into the direction of your dreams. Live that life you have imagined."

Before handing out diplomas to the graduating 2011 class, Assistant Principal Peter Sawyer thanked the seniors for their kind words and generous donations, for their inspiring song, and also thanked the Harding family and Meadowbrook for allowing this milestone to unfold at their facility.

Varney Smith
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