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South Royalton Reaches ‘End of an Era’

  • South Royalton School valedictorian Aliza George speaks to a tent full of family and friends attending the graduation of 27 students on the town green in South Royalton, Vt., on June 9, 2018. George encouraged her classmates to continue to be proud of the school, which will reopen as White River Valley High School in the fall, merging students from Bethel and South Royalton. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton graduate Molly Maben, center, laughs with her classmates as commencement speaker Philip Crossman, who taught the students as ninth-graders, talks about the papers they wrote for his English class. Twenty-seven seniors received their diplomas on June 9, 2018, in South Royalton, Vt. It was the last graduation for South Royalton School, which will become the new location of White River Valley High School, merging students from Bethel and South Royalton. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton School classmates Dominick Small, left, and Christopher McCullough relax on a sofa at the United Church of South Royalton in South Royalton, Vt., before lining up to walk across the road for their graduation on June 9, 2018. The class of 27 graduates was the last for South Royalton School, which will become the new location of White River Valley High School in the fall, merging students from Bethel and South Royalton. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Aliza George brought her yearbook to South Royalton School’s graduation in South Royalton, Vt., on June 9, 2018, to get notes from her classmates. The class of 27 graduates is the last at South Royalton School, which will become the new location of White River Valley High School in the fall, merging students from Bethel and South Royalton. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton School senior Kylen Nelson shows senior class advisor Raina Robins how she plans to march into graduation with her flute as students prepare for the ceremony at the United Church of South Royalton in South Royalton, Vt., on June 9, 2018. Nelson played the national anthem at the commencement, the last for South Royalton School. The building will become the new location of White River Valley High School in the fall, merging students from Bethel and South Royalton. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, June 09, 2018

South Royalton — At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, with speeches completed, scholarships awarded, and tassels turned, 27 teenagers bedecked in blue and gold became the last 12th-grade class to graduate from South Royalton School.

Beginning next year, students from South Royalton and Bethel’s Whitcomb High will instead attend the new White River Valley High School, formed in an Act 46 merger, albeit in the same South Royalton building. Middle school students from both towns will go to school in Bethel.

The significance of the change was not lost on Saturday’s graduates.

“For generations this town has worn blue and gold with pride,” Grace Pease said.

Salutatorian Connor Lambert called it “the end of an era: not just for me, not just for my peers, but for the entire South Royalton community.”

Beside the tent in which the commencement ceremony took place stood a pair of signs, the first reading “Once a Royal...” and the second, “Always a Royal.” Clusters of blue and gold balloons ringed the village green, and more than a couple of attendees sported “Go Royals” shirts or other school wear.

These displays had a special resonance on Saturday, as if those gathered were sending off not only a crop of students, but also a beloved town institution.

In his address, Lambert urged his classmates to hold on to their roots: “Learn to be a Wildcat,” he said, “but remember who you once were: a Royal.”

Impending merger aside, the mood beneath the tent was hopeful and grateful.

According to Lambert, who is bound for the biochemistry program at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y., the knowledge that the Royals had but one year left increased community engagement. “The bonfire was bigger this year,” he said in an interview last week. “Sports teams have had more support.”

Lambert said he would miss South Royalton’s faculty the most, especially Lisa Dragon and Dalton Gomez, who sparked his interest in science. “There’s always a teacher that’s there for you,” he said. “They’re always there to help you and they always want to help you.”

Valedictorian Aliza George poked fun at the school’s bland paint job and “broken and unopenable” lockers.

She also credited her classmates with motivating her throughout their years together. “I don’t know how I’m going to support myself without these guys,” she said.

George began her speech by recalling how, as a 3-year-old, she complained after her mother said she was too young to attend school.

But lo, 15 years later, she was set to graduate at the top of her class. “That’s justice, I think,” George joked.

Bradford Jones introduced the class’s honorary speaker, former English teacher Philip Crossman, whom Jones described as an “advocate for learning inside and outside of class.”

Crossman was magnanimous, saying he wished he could trade speeches with Lambert and George.

But he also ribbed his former students: “Class of 2018, I believe in you,” he said, before adding, “I confess, there are a few of you who challenged me in that belief.”

Crossman offered the graduates a meditation on happiness: “The things you have to do to be happy are easy to do,” he said, “and so they’re easy not to do.

“It’s easy not to imagine yourself being something beyond what you’ve already been.”

He urged the students to live imaginatively and courageously, interlacing his remarks with ideas they generated back in his ninth-grade English class.

He approvingly quoted one essay in particular, by senior Ryan Jones: “You look a tree right in the eye and you say, ‘I’m gonna climb you, and I’m not scared.’ ”

Gabe Brison-Trezise can be reached at g.brisontrezise@gmail.com.

South Royalton School Class of 2018:

Eleanor Boule; Brianna Farnsworth; Grace Frary, Vermont Technical College; Aliza George, University of Vermont; Cheyenna Horky, Nothern Vermont University.

Iris Hudson, Castleton University; Bradford Jones, UVM; Ryan Jones, Castleton University; Anisha Kumar, pilot’s school; Connor Lambert, St. Lawrence University; Aaron Lorette, Word of Life.

Molly Maben, Community College of Vermont; Christopher McCullough, Castleton University; Claire McPhetres, CCV/Vermont Technical College; Kylen Nelson, University of Southern Maine; Grace Pease, UVM.

Joesph Potwin; Tristen Prior, work; Amber Rawson, Austin Rogers, University of Northwest Ohio; Kelsi Rogers Melvin, work; Laura Roy, gap year; Maiafay Ryon, Northern Vermont University

Sierra Salls, work; Dominick Small, Castleton University; Nicholas Thornton, VTC; Tyler Trombly, work/VTC.