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Last 4 seniors graduate from Stratford High School

June 18, 2011
STRATFORD — The four members of the Class of 2011 at Stratford High School graduated on Thursday evening in less than an hour, marching across the stage to receive their diplomas from school board chairman Dan Smith assisted by SAU #58 Superintendent James Shallow to the strains of the "Top Gun" theme song.

Principal Tonya Arnold, who will head up the four-town Lake Region Middle School in Naples, Me., next year, welcomed the graduates' parents, family, friends and townspeople to what is likely to be the last class to graduate from the Stratford School.

Voters at the March school meeting opted to send the town's high school students to Groveton High School, at least for the coming school year, 2011-2012.

Valedictorian Kelly Jean Mason who has spent 13 years at the K-12 Stratford School, marched into the auditorium under an arch of blue and white balloons to the strains of Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," following class marshal Lydia Donovan, a freshman. Kelly is headed to Plymouth State University with plans to major in early childhood education.

Sarah Elizabeth Brewer of Stratford, who is headed to NHTI in Concord to study nursing, marched in next, followed by Ashley Marie Supernois of Stratford, who is enrolled at White Mountains Community College in Berlin. Tyler James Leighton of Groveton, who is headed to the University of Northwestern Ohio for an Associates Degree in automotive studies and high-performance autos, was the last in the short line.

Both freshman Natalie Hakey and sophomore Richard Gokey served as ushers.

The valedictorian read aloud "The Big Orange Splot," a children's book by Daniel Pinkwater that she had become familiar with in an Early Childhood Education Career and Technical Education class in Littleton.

"The lesson that I wanted everyone to hear is that we are all unique in our own way, and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be influence by outside voices," she said. "I hope that you, the Class of 2011, will be able to stay true to what you believe and not listen to the people telling you that you're crazy or wrong."

Commencement guest speaker Kelly Kostka, valedictorian of the Stratford Class of 2007 who just earned a B.S. in nursing at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, Conn., urged that day's graduates to set goals for themselves but to remain flexible so that can adjust them to current circumstances and changed aspirations.

After switching one another's tassels from one side to the other, indicating that they were now graduates, members of the Class of 2011 marched out of the auditorium and formed a receiving line in the school's all-purpose room. A thunderstorm with a heavy rainfall had rumbled through North Stratford during the graduation ceremony.

Both District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton and Cos District 2 Rep. Herb Richardson of Lancaster were on hand to offer their congratulations.

Seventeen awards and scholarships were given out.

Kelly Mason was presented with the Valedictorian Award for the highest grade point average, Paul Roth Science Award, Stratford Elementary School Activities (PTA) Award, Grant Mason Business Award, Stratford Education Association Scholarship, Gerald Whitaker Award, Knights of Pythias Scholarship, First Colebrook Bank Scholarship presented by David Atkinson, Raymond and Harriet Savage Award and Scholarship, Irene Carrier Stevens Memorial Scholarship, Balsams Scholarship for Excellence presented by Ray Gorman, Laurence Hook Memorial Scholarship, and Stratford Alumni Association Scholarship.

Sarah Brewer was awarded the Bernard C., Mary L. & Bernard C. Nugent, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, the Brandon Davis Memorial Award, the Stratford Alumni Association Scholarship, and the First Colebrook Bank Scholarship presented by David Atkinson.

Ashley Supernois won the Benton Lodge Scholarship.

Tyler Leighton received the Travis C. Hand Memorial Award, which the late Travis' mother said sadly would be the last awarded, since the high school being closed.

AJ Coleman
Varney Smith
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