Class of 2011 bids adieu to Prospect Mountain


119 students receive diplomas in graduation ceremony Friday night



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MICHELLE LIZOTTE was pumped up prior to her graduation ceremony on Friday night. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 22, 2011
ALTON — Rainy weather forced the graduation ceremony into the auditorium at Prospect Mountain High School on Friday, June 17, but the spirit of the students, family, friends, faculty and members of the administration couldn't be dampened.

A total of 119 students were awarded diplomas, and the keynote address was delivered by Brian Stuart, a school staff member who was selected by the senior class to give the address.

Stuart hit the stage with a lot of energy, running in front of students with music from Star Wars blaring as he dawned a Darth Vader mask and swung a light saber back and forth.

Stuart professed his love for the students and delivered one of his many jokes that got a laugh out of students.

"I love you guys. You are so cool. You are an elite class of my homies," Stuart said. "Let's saber the moment."

Stuart reflected on the good times he has experienced with the students throughout the years and even read some fortune cookies that gave words of advice.

Stuart talked about several pairs of four letter words that he hopes they use in the post-high school lives: love and hate, life and live, give and take, hope and time.

Stuart left the class with some parting words of encouragement and threw some lingo that only they would understand.

"You've reached the top," Stuart added. "Spread your wings and fly. You are sick and nasty, and you all have the nastiest swag."

Assistant Principal John Houlihan went on to read the 119 names, and Principal Jay Fitzpatrick presented each graduate with his or her diploma.

Fitzpatrick opened the ceremony and recalled holding the freshmen seminar for the graduates that were about to complete their four-year odyssey.

Fitzpatrick encouraged students to pay attention, as the years go by.

"Every day spent here was significant," Fitzpatrick said. "Time is going to fly by so pay attention to life every day."

Eunice Landry, representing the PMHS School Board, thanked the staff for their hard work and the families for their time spent helping their children along.

"It is you in the audience that have made Prospect Mountain High School, and for that I thank you," Landry said.

Stephanie Burke was presented with the salutatory award, with a GPA of 5.39 out of a possible 5.5.

During her salutatory address Burke recalled spending summers swimming with her friend Leigh Sheldon.

Sheldon has autism, but Burke has learned a lot from her throughout the years.

"She taught me that there is more to people then what they say," Burke said. "Leigh has taught me that I don't need to be so dependent on words."

Burke thanked teachers, friends and family members for their help through the years, and with their support, she is ready for the world ahead of her.

"You won't know your potential until you take a few risks," Burke added.

Spencer Goossens was given the valedictory award, with a GPA of 5.45 out of possible 5.5.

Goossens recalled his beginnings at PMHS and how exciting it was to be able to choose his own classes and set his own path.

Goossens sees a lot of potential in fellow classmates and knows that relationships have been formed that will last for years and years.

"We have formed bonds that will last a lifetime," Goossens said.

He thanked classmates and family members for their support and closed his speech with a glimpse towards the future.

"Every day is now Friday, and I can't wait to spend the rest of the weekend with all of you guys," Goossens said.

Tony Limanni and Peter Long, the senior class advisors, addressed the students and gave them some advice for the future.

Limanni thanked friends and family for their hard work and told the students to aim high.

"This day wouldn't happen without a sense of community," Limanni said. "Shoot for the moon and you'll end up in the stratosphere."

Long recalled the events that happened at the high school throughout the years; dances, spaghetti dinners and winning winter carnival.

He gave the students some simple advice on taking risks.

"Don't gamble," Long said. "It could lead you to do something embarrassing in front of people."

Long, who is from Canada, revealed that he was wearing a Boston Bruins' jersey underneath his gown, the result of a lost wager on the Stanley Cup Finals.

Brooke Bastarache, the senior class president, talked about inspiration she received from her mother and urged to her classmates to leave behind all the high school drama.

"Good luck," Bastarache said. "You, we, will all go far."

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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