CHRIS SLIVA “Tebows” as he takes the platform to receive his diploma during Prospect Mountain’s graduation on Friday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 13, 2012ALTON — If there's one thing that those in attendance at the Prospect Mountain High School graduation on Friday, June 8, learned about the members of the Class of 2012, it's that they are much less smelly than they were when they walked through the doors four years ago.
That point was neatly hammered home by the four class advisors in their speech to the Class of 2012 prior to the awarding of the diplomas. Kim Kelliher, Russ Troendle, Katey Hills and Mark Bingham were all quick to point out, however, that there was much more to the Class of 2012 than their combined odors.
"We have realized how much you have given us," Kelliher said. "Your spirit, your energy and enthusiasm for life.
"We'd like to thank you for the lessons you've taught us over the last four years," she added.
The commencement ceremony was tinged with talk of how the members have changed an how the world has changed. But Principal J Fitzpatrick, in his opening remarks, noted that some things never change.
"Roy (custodian Roy Poslusny) still thinks he owns the cafeteria," Fitzpatrick joked.
"High school has not changed," he added. "The only thing that has changed is you.
"You are all much different people than you were when you first walked through those front doors," Fitzpatrick continued. "I hope you continue to grow and change for the better and I believe you will."
After the 113 graduates filed in to the school auditorium the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, the ceremony quickly took on a bit of a lighter note. The senior members of the Prospect Mountain choir sang the National Anthem and Fitzpatrick asked them to stay on the stage to lead the crowd assembled in Happy Birthday, as senior Nicole Perry was not only celebrating her graduation, but also her birthday.
The lighter note continued throughout the ceremony and the graduates and their families were in and out of the auditorium in about an hour and a half.
Fitzpatrick got the evening moving along by thanking all who had a hand in getting the graduation in order and also offering his thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of social media Web site Facebook.
"I love Facebook," Fitzpatrick said. "I love the fact that I get to read so many people's opinions on so many things."
The Prospect principal noted that he doesn't even need to watch television anymore since he had all the drama he needed on his Facebook page every day.
Fitzpatrick noted that he made the call to cancel the senior class lock-in in February due to weather concerns on a night when it never even snowed. All over Facebook he saw his decision panned by members of the Class of 2012, including class president Julie Parker, who Fitzpatrick made read her post from that evening, a post that said the kids were basically being treated like elementary school students.
The class and the audience got a good chuckle out of the exchange and Fitzpatrick knew it was all done in a moment of disappointment. As the world has changed, the ability to express one's opinions instantly is one of the major changes the students have seen over the school careers, just one of many things that had changed in the world outside of high school, leading to his remarks about things changing.
Krista Argiropolis, the chairwoman of the Joint Maintenance School Board also took to social media for her remarks, wishing the students well in the form of a tweet, which she assured those unfamiliar with Twitter was plenty short, under 140 characters to be exact.
The first speaker of the ceremony was Salutatorian Kristine Adams, who finished with a 5.26 GPA (out of 5.25 scale).
Adams, whose list of extracurricular and academic accomplishments is more than lengthy, told the story of how she used to be a lazy, unmotivated kid who couldn't be bothered to clean her room.
That is, until she met Marcia Smith, her fourth grade math and language teacher.
"She wouldn't let me settle for anything less than my personal best," Adams said. "I hope you all find your Mrs. Smith."
After quoting Dave Matthews and Gandhi, Adams provided her classmates with a little wisdom.
"If we can't be true to ourselves, than who can we be true to," she said. "You know what it is that makes you unique and what make you happy."
Valedictorian Samantha Holton was next to the podium, as she earned a GPA of 5.27 for her high school career.
"Expect the unexpected," she said to her classmates. "Things happen and they happen for a reason."
She praised her classmates for always being there to catch each other if they were to fall.
"We'll always be Timber Wolves at heart," she said.
After the class advisors informed the audience that the kids smelled much better as seniors than as freshmen, they announced that the class was presenting the school with a six-foot carved Timber Wolf as the senior class gift.
Fitzpatrick then relayed a story as he introduced the next student speaker.
Every year he attends the graduations at Alton Central and Barnstead Elementary Schools. He remembered four years earlier attending the BES graduation where Parker was called up for award after award.
"I said to myself, Julie Parker will speak at her high school graduation, most likely as the class president," Fitzpatrick said.
Parker noted that summing up high school in a short speech, at first seemed like a daunting task.
"But I knew it had to come from the heart and when I realized that, it came easily," she said.
She noted that friendships were formed in the early years at Barnstead and Alton, but over the last four years new friendships have been formed and old ones solidified.
"Over the last four years, our class has grown into a group of fine young adults," she said. "And each experience helped define us as individuals."
She pointed out that at Prospect Mountain, there was a place for everyone to fit in. She noted she joined the Outing Club early in her Prospect experience and compared high school to that experience.
"Each mountain has a different view and we never know what to expect," she said. "It's been an honor to lead you."
The featured speaker for the evening, chosen by the Class of 2012, was former vice principal John Houlihan. Fitzpatrick was a little confused when the seniors presented him with their choice."
"He single-handedly handed out more detentions and suspensions than me or Mrs. Hills (the new vice principal) combined," Fitzpatrick said.
Houlihan hammered that home with his opening remarks, stating the Class of 2012 received 296 Saturday detentions over the past four years.
"That's 1,184 hours of extra school," he said. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity to give that to you."
Houlihan noted that during his time at the school, which ended after last season, the Class of 2012 was instrumental in moving him forward.
"They helped me as much as I've helped them," Houlihan said.
He urged the communities of Alton and Barnstead to support the educators within the walls of Prospect Mountain.
"They are devoted to the students," Houlihan said of the faculty. "Thank you for all you've done for me."
Turning his attention to the students, the former vice principal remembered the good times in the three years they spent together.
"You all always have a good place in my heart," he said.
He also took a jab at last year's featured speaker, Brian Stuart, who came armed with props for his address.
"How could I possibly measure up to that," he said. "Then I realized that I can't. I needed to be myself. I am going to do what I do, I'm going to teach, because I'm an educator and I'm proud."
He noted that each student earned his or her seat on the stage.
"It's not about being perfect, it's about how you respond to mistakes you might make in life," he said. "Because we all make them.
"I owe you, you don't owe me," he continued. "I am honored to have been an employee here."
Fitzpatrick then presented the diplomas to the 113 graduates, who enjoyed a few moments with a beach ball and an inflatable pink flamingo on the stage as their classmates picked up their hard-earned diplomas.
Then, the Class of 2012 filed out of the auditorium and on to the next step in their lives.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126