SCOTT GIESSLER, Kingswood Regional High School multi-media teacher and Theater Director, offered the students some words of wisdom as well as entertainment in his commencement address. (Joshua Spaulding photo) (click for larger version)
June 21, 2012WOLFEBORO — Friends and family of 182 Kingswood seniors gathered on Alumni Field this past Saturday, June 16, to watch and cheer as each received his or her graduation diploma, the result of 13 years of hard work on behalf of the parents, teachers, and most importantly, the students.
The radiant summer weather mirrored the cheerful atmosphere of the commencement exercises and sunny disposition of those in attendance.
Led by a group of faculty and staff and class marshals Rachel Graham and Arthur Twitchell, the Kingswood Regional High School class of 2012 took their seats and were welcomed with an invocation by their classmate Jerrod Peterson.
Peterson told the story of a young man who seeks the key to success from a guru only to learn that the means to achievement are within himself.
"Until you want success as badly as you wanted air just now," the guru says after holding the man under water, "you will never achieve it."
Building off this take home message, Peterson urged his fellow graduates not to be afraid to chase their dreams and to strive for excellence.
"Today is our day and this is our world. As we leave today lets not settle for mediocrity but for success and bigger things."
At the conclusion of the invocation one group which clearly does not settle for mediocrity, Kingswood's a cappella group Route 28, sang a harmonious rendition of the national anthem followed by the welcoming address given by Class President Jessica Snowdon.
Snowdon related the journey ahead of herself and her classmates to that of the late Christopher McCandless, the young man who abandoned societal expectations and found his own path in the Alaskan wilderness.
McCandless, Snowden said, "teaches us to be hungry for knowledge and experience," to be independent and self reliant, and most importantly how to live without being afraid.
"I now walk into the wild," quoted Snowden to her classmates, "the future is the vast wilderness and we all must go on our own quest to find ourselves."
Chairperson of the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board Stacy Trites introduced the year's two top gold scholars, Allison Wood and Matthew Lounsbury.
Kingswood's 10 Gold Scholars distinguish themselves not only academically but also in the contributions they make to their communities, explained Trites, and these two students in particular exceeded all expectations.
Based on a combination of educational, extracurricular and community-driven requirements, Lounsbury and Wood achieved top two status in part by completing a combined 14 advanced placement classes and exams, participating in 10 leadership activities, and volunteering 342 hours of community service.
"These top performers have worked hard demonstrating strong leadership and exemplary citizenship," concluded Trites of the scholars, "We are very proud of them."
Second-ranking scholar Allison Wood lamented that though their futures may differ for each of them they will all share in their "Knight pride."
After quoting Harry Potter's Albus Dumbledore, "it is our choices that show what we truly are," she advised her peers to keep in mind "that everyone has talents, everyone is gifted in certain ways, and if you take the time and give people a chance I think you will be surprised by what you find."
Matthew Lounsbury, the highest-ranking scholar of the class of 2012, began his address to his classmates by saying that though the past 13 years of schooling amounts to more than three-quarters of their lives, they are "really just beginning life's education."
He took a moment to reminisce of the changes each of them had endured throughout their high school careers and joked about the adaptations students learned to make in order to get by in different teachers' classes.
He spoke of the talents in his classmates and predicted some of their future endeavors as being Broadway stars, superstar athletes, solvers of world hunger, the next great architects, and the preventers of World War III.
Lounsbury spoke of a relevant and meaningful discussion he had with Joshua Spaulding, the editor of the Baysider and sports editor of the Granite State News and multiple other Salmon Press papers.
"Perhaps the most [significant] words of wisdom parlayed upon me…came from our local sports editor Joshua Spaulding," he shared.
Having been asked about his career goals by Spaulding, Lounsbury had replied that he was considering becoming the next Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.
It was to this that Spaulding asked, "Why don't you be the first Matt Lounsbury?"
"Up until that point," reflected Matt, "I had yet to measure success based upon my own capabilities and this is not how we sure live our lives."
Though confident in his classmates' abilities, of their futures he admitted that they have no idea what is in store for them.
"Your futures will be what you make of it," he said. "I wish to praise you Class of 2012, I trust we will go far. We will challenge future students to live up to our standards, we will inspire others to set high goals, and we will make our families extremely proud."
The class gift was presented by secretary and treasurer of the class of 2012, Brennan Rankin and Allison Wood. On behalf of their classmates the girls presented Kingswood High School Principal Guy Donnelly with a gift of four benches for the front hall of the high school to be placed near the main office where they said students can be found lingering while waiting for rides. Additionally the class of 2012 presented Donnelly with the gift of two elm trees to be planted on the new Kingswood campus.
Special gifts were given to class advisors Tom Loonam and Maureen Wheeler.
"There are two people we need to thank who are superheroes to our class," said Rankin of the teachers who went "above and beyond" their duties as class advisors. Attending to every detail in an effort to ensure the student's senior year went as smoothly as possible Loonam and Wheeler's "incredible dedication to the class" has left a lasting impression.
In a witty and lighthearted speech Scott Giessler, Kingswood Regional High School multi-media teacher and Theater Director, offered the students some words of wisdom in his commencement address.
As Michael Allfrey, who introduced Giessler as the man of many talents, explained, he is thought of by the students as, "dedicated, thoughtful, funny, selfless, and bringing out the best in people."
It's his "vitality and passion [for] making the lives of others better," that he was chosen by the students to speak on one of the most important days of their lives.
"Mr. Giessler not only treats students with respect and trust, but he teaches and leads with an open mind," Allfrey said before handing the mic over to the teacher he said influenced so much.
Putting his talents to use, Giessler used comic relief, special effects and stories of his personal experiences to share his knowledge about the pursuit of happiness with the almost-former students.
He encouraged each to break the "yard sticks" they'd been using since they started school to measure themselves against everyone else around them, something that took him 10 years after graduating high school to do.
"Following someone else's road map only gets you so far… chase down your own dreams at full speed and without apology," he directed.
Giessler stressed the importance of finding job happiness and carefully picking a life partner while simultaneously encouraging the class to take risks and allow themselves to make mistakes.
"Class of 2012 your life starts here, it's time for you to get on your way. Start writing your own road map… and true happiness will be yours," he proclaimed.
At the closing of Giessler's entertaining speech the awarding of diplomas proceeded. Each student's name was announced by Principal Donnelly before they took to the stage to receive their diploma from Trites and Stephen Guyer, Principal of the Lakes Region Technology Center. After all 182 were announced upon Donnelly's certification Superintendent Jack Robertson declared the class of 2012 as graduated and the newest members of the Kingswood Alumni Association.
In closing Jack Bowen drew from his experiences studying abroad to address the graduates.
"There will be times when you feel alone and want to quit…but, you will make it thru," he assured them. "The determination to be happy will get you further in life than any degree you will ever receive."
"Your life is yours, rise up and live it," he exclaimed as he and his classmates left the field to the traditional tune of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Admittedly the only thing keeping the ceremony from being perfect was the absence of one classmate, Darren Duncanson, who lost his life on April 2. While Duncanson's name was announced during the awarding of diplomas his absence was felt by all.
The Kingswood Regional High School gradation commencement ceremonies can be seen in full on Wolfeboro Community T.V.'s local channel or on line at http://wolfeborocommunitytelevision.com.