Featured image of article: ConVal Graduation 2021: The Program And The Speeches

ConVal Graduation 2021: The Program And The Speeches

On Friday, June 11, the ConVal High School graduation ceremony was held on the school’s Stadium Field.

In addition to teachers, school administrators, and staff, who wore their academic regalia in honor of the graduates, Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Rizzo Saunders and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ann Forrest attended the event, representing the SAU leadership.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ann Forrest, Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Rizzo Saunders, and High School Principal Heather McKillop

The official program of the Commencement Exercises can be accessed here.

After the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” processional by Edward Elgar, the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by senior members of the chorus Brigham Boice, Aaliyah Colby, Ashton Laurent, Grace Phillips, and Abby Theberge.

Next, Class President Reid Wilson took the podium for welcome remarks.

“Going into this new part of our lives, where we will have energy and confidence, but little experience, I suggest to you: ‘Minimum skill, maximum send’.”

Heather McKillop delivered the Principal’s Address to the Class of 2021 which reflected on the theme of “firsts” and how the class had shown strength, determination, and resilience during difficult times.

“As I’ve said to you all year long, we can do hard things. We can, we are, and we will.”

Madilyn Cilley delivered the Valedictorian Speech in which she contemplated the lessons she learned while attending ConVal Regional High School, both in the classroom and for life.

“From Ms. Milne, I not only grew in my understanding of chemistry and biology, but I learned not to procrastinate because you might get appendicitis. I’m still working on applying that one to my life.”

In her Salutatorian Speech, Aria Frehner painted a rich pastiche of ConVal High School by taking a mental tour of the building and pointing to the specific learning experiences she enjoyed in each of the classrooms, especially in the arts.

“ConVal’s art is ConVal’s joy. ConVal’s art is ConVal’s support.”

Brigham Boice and Jason Bergeron delivered the Student Speech which compared the flu pandemic in 1918 to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021 and the historical parallels between the experiences of the Peterborough High School Class of 1918 and ConVal’s Class of 2021.

“The Black Plague led to the Renaissance, the Influenza Pandemic led to the Roaring Twenties. These critical junctures show that, after times of turmoil, we can come into a greater age of learning and innovation.”

The winner of the Faculty and Staff Award was announced in a laudatory speech by Liz Moore and Brian Moore. The award is given annually at commencement to that graduating senior who, in the collective opinion of the teaching faculty, best represents, in practice and intent, spirit, unselfishness, service, leadership, and accomplishment. This year’s recipient was Abby Theberge who was applauded for “her ability to develop relationships through mutual caring which requires kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.”

“You’ve contributed so much to the culture of ConVal. You’ve been a leader with honors through the performing arts and educational excellence.”

Judy Heddy was the faculty speaker. Heddy drew on her 44 years of coaching and teaching experineces and spoke to the changes that she and her students witnessed during this time, especially the multiple, rapid transformations during the last year and a half.

“In the last 15 months, we adopted and adapted to a new educational environment with fully remote, to hybrid and then back into the building for many.”

After the awarding of the diplomas by Principal Heather McKillop (see separate web post), David MacKay gave a humorous Farewell Speech to the Class of 2021.

“Chewing gum with a mask on will make you cry … eating while unmuted on zoom is the most humbling experience on the planet, especially if your teacher has speaker view on.”

For the recorded livestream of the event, please click here.

Thank you to the Class Advisors Gretchen Shippee and Kristin Ingram, to the Class Marshalls Fletcher Maggs and Elias Niemela, to the graduation advisors Deb Coyne and Judy Heddy, to the administrative assistants Lisa Pelkey, Leah Seymour, Brandi Litts, Laura Merzi, and to all others who made the 2021 Commencement Exercises such a memorable event.