Black River Graduation

BY AIYANA FORTIN

The Vermont Journal

LUDLOW, Vt. – On June 11, 2016 Black River’s Class of 2016, like so many other students before them, graduated. This day marked the beginning of a new part of each graduate’s life that will influence their decisions for years to come, and help them to become successful in their own way.

The seniors made their way to the stage as they were accompanied by the Black River Band’s performance of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Alden Livingston, member of the Class of 2016, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Black River Chorus performed an SSAA arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner.

Sabrina Robinson, President of the Class of 2016, welcomed everyone, thanked the audience for their love and support through the years, and wished her fellow graduates luck as they continue in the world.

Graduates Leslie Bixby, Ashley Brown, Alyssa LeTourneau, and Angel Staley performed “Rivers and Roads” by Hensley Johnson, accompanied by Angel Staley on acoustic guitar and Constance Wilcox on piano.

Guidance Counselor Sofia Bertocci introduced the Salutatorian of the Class of 2016, Earle Brown. He has distinguished himself through numerous contributions to athletics, the school, and the community. He has completed over 140 hours of community service, received the Joseph Gurdak Sportsmanship Award twice, and been named MVP in both Basketball and Soccer. His natural leadership skills are evident in Earle’s participation in sports, the National Honor Society, student government, and the Interact Club.

Earle Brown posed the question: What is success? By the dictionary definition, it is simply achieving a goal. But goals and success are defined differently for different people. Earle has decided that success can be measured in happiness, which becomes an integral part of a successful life. For some people, success is more easily measured in money. But, as Earle wonders, can money truly make a person happy? This second definition is often confused with the first, but Earle is sure that “if you can make a lot of money and be happy, that’s probably the best way to go.” He encourages everyone to decide how to measure personal success, and then make sure you find happiness. Earle wished the Class of 2016 luck as they continue to the next part of their life, and huge congratulations on one of many successes.

The Black River High School Chorus performed “For Good” from “Wicked,” with solos by graduates Leslie Bixby, Alyssa LeTourneau, and Angel Staley and accompaniment by Constance Wilcox.

Guidance Counselor Sofia Bertocci also introduced the Valedictorian of the Class of 2016, Sadie Koponen. She distinguishes herself in her devotion of time and energy to sports, extracurricular activities, part­time work, and service in the community. She has played Golf for Black River for five years, twice becoming the Southern Conference Golf Champion. She has been a member of the Interact Club and student government, senior editor of the Yearbook, and President of National Honor Society. She earned awards and recognition from St. Michael’s College and Elmira College during her junior year. She has learned to balance her extracurricular activities with a rigorous course load.

Sadie began by welcoming everyone. No one can believe how quickly time has flown, and how much everyone has learned through personal experience. Time in elementary, middle, and high school has built a foundation for the next stage of life. Sadie extends a huge thank you to everyone who has touched her or a fellow graduate in some way, influencing an incredible group of successful people. But the next stage of life is not going to be easy, and Sadie won’t hesitate to tell you. Sadie believes that she and her fellow graduates will learn the most from taking risks, overcoming mistakes, learning for themselves, and taking pride in their individuality.

The following musical selection, a composition written by graduate Leslie Bixby, was performed by the senior band members. “Transitions” tells the story of the Class of 2016, everything from learning, failing, and trying harder next time, to the differences and similarities between each graduate that have led up to this moment.

Graduate Alyssa LeTourneau introduced the guest speaker, John Olson, Vice President of Whelen Engineering in Charlestown New Hampshire, where they not only engineer and manufacture lights for emergency centers, but also educate students about engineering and manufacturing. Olson has been with Whelen Engineering for 60 years, and has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his time and his work supporting youths in developing their own engineering and manufacturing experiences in the community.

John Olson began by congratulating the Class of 2016 on their incredible achievement. This marks the beginning of both adulthood and the beginning of new choices that will support the world in the future. The Class of 2016 has been given an incredible education and a huge support network that will enable each graduate to make good judgments and decisions in the next stages of their lives.

Colin McKaig, Principal Shannon Martin, and Superintendent Bruce Williams awarded diplomas to each graduate. The Class of 2016 moved their tassels from right to left, and started the celebration by throwing their caps.

The Black River Band played “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates exited the stage and received congratulations from everyone in the audience and community. Congratulations Class of 2016!

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