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Lin-Wood's 21 new graduates thankful for community support

June 13, 2012
LINCOLN — With a gymnasium full of supportive family, friends, and teachers, Lin-wood's 21 graduating seniors received their diplomas on Friday evening. The ceremony included thankful speeches, numerous awards, and memories of their years together as classmates.

Graduate Joseph LaBrecque, one of three in the class headed to the military, delivered a personal speech that directed endearing comments to his classmates. "I will miss all of you," he said.

Salutatorian Kristen Shou spoke for her class when she noted, "We are thankful to the people here for supporting and loving us through hard times." She also discussed the wisdom she received from Yoda, a Jedi master in the Star Wars movies. "You must feel the force around you," Shou said. She added that her classmates could thank their parents, "the Jedi masters in our lives." The graduates must accept "challenges to push us to be the greatest that we can be," she said.

Class President Spencer Ham informed the crowd that the class had a gift for every teacher. "Thank you," he said. "You have quenched our thirst for knowledge." Ham then specifically thanked class advisors Sheila Rich and Denise Siekmann.

Kelsey O'Rourke gave the Valedictory Address. She said that friends, family, and teachers serve as the root system to the class. "You have supported us, taught us, and pushed us to our limits," she said.

To continue the tree comparison, she said her classmates "will still be needing our root system" after graduation. She concluded that the class "had our similarities and differences," but "we are one forest, the graduating class of 2012."

More than 30 companies presented scholarships to the class. Wendy Hamill, guidance counselor, said that this year saw more than $43,000 in gifts to the graduates. Eighty percent of the class will be going to college next year, she said, including nine members bound for New Hampshire schools.

Principal Robert Nelson read from essays that members of the class had written. The essays gave the graduates an opportunity to discuss how they had grown in the last four years.

Nelson said that the class should "set your goals high . . . but be careful how you measure your success." He continued by saying, "Don't be the best in the world, but the best for the world." In conclusion, Nelson suggested to the graduates, "It is time to go forward and be a positive part of the future."

The ceremony's attendees were impressed with a slideshow that the class created. Many of the pictures were of infants who grew into the young adults in the Class of 2012. The slideshow brought applause and laughter from the crowd as photos of each class member appeared on the screen.

Ham's concluding remarks brought additional opportunity to praise the help that he and his classmates had been given in their lives. "We have what it takes to be successful adults," he said. "Thank you, everyone."

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