Stevens Focuses on the NOW
Stevens High School English teacher Scott MacNamee gets a standing ovation from graduating seniors during the ceremony at Claremont Opera House in Claremont, N.H., on June 13, 2014. MacNamee took to the podium to introduce co-valedictorian Cassondra Dale. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Graduating senior Gabrielle Keyser, left, leaves the line of graduates to talk to a friend before the start of Stevens High School's graduation at the Claremont Opera House in Claremont, N.H., on June 13, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
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Claremont — Have a “NOW” day every day, and remember “we all love each other,” were the messages from the Stevens Class of 2014 co-valedictorians, Jenna Deschaine and Cassondra Dale at Friday evening’s graduation.
The evening began with the class marching down the Claremont Opera House aisles and onto the stage to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance followed by the playing of the Marine Corps hymn for graduates Christian Stone and Tyler Varnkham, who will join the Marines. After the two seniors led the audience of family and friends in the Pledge of Allegiance, School Board Chairman Richard Seaman welcomed the class of 93 seniors.
Seaman called the graduates an “extraordinary group of young men and women” and an “accomplished class” with more than $150,000 in scholarship money handed out at class night.
“This is a caring class that has volunteered thousands, maybe tens of thousands of hours for community service. For that we also thank you,” Seaman said.
He advised the graduates to “hold onto what’s best from where you come from, stay engaged because their views on social and political issues matter and lastly, be safe. We need each one of you. Your unique qualities, your distinct character will sculpt our future. In other words, don’t text and drive.”
Scott MacNamee, who received a standing ovation from the graduates, introduced Dale, who will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall, as the type of student who makes teaching fun.
“It is not only because she is talented and does all her work on time but because she is genuine, kind and truly enjoys learning,” MacNamee said.
Dale made a connection between a family road trip with her parents and sister several years ago that was fraught with problems but ended well, to the high school experiences of the last four years.
“When we arrived, when we stepped out of the car, it was so much better,” Dale said about the trip. “We loved each other.
“Class of 2014, we’ve been through a lot, at school and at home. It has certainly been a journey but we made it here with only minor cuts and bruises, and a better understanding of our lives,” Dale said. “And now, we are here. And when we take that first step out of the car, like we are all doing right now, we will look around and realize that we all love each other too.”
English Teacher Karen Cullison introduced Deschaine after several female graduates sang It’s Time.
Cullison said Deschaine, who will attend St. Michael’s College, though known for her athletic ability, has much more to her.
“She is so much deeper than that confident athlete. She is not only articulate and intelligent, but witty, curious and sensitive and empathetic as well.”
Each of the last four years has presented challenges to this class, began Deschaine, with the final year the toughest because of the construction project at Stevens. But those challenges were doses of reality that will serve them well, she said, as more change lies ahead.
Deschaine said the transition and “change should be embraced, whether it is new friends, another diploma or a job promotion, it will eventually bring something beautiful into our lives.”
She closed with a challenge to her classmates that she heard from the keynote speaker at a conference she recently attended.
“Have a NOW day,” Deschaine said. “NOW stands for ‘no opportunity wasted.’ Be adventurous and do something different. Join a club, learn to play an instrument, study abroad do whatever you can to make sure no opportunity is wasted. Class of 2014, have a NOW day, every day.”
The class also took a moment during the commencement to remember Jason Hagerman, who would have graduated this year. Hagerman died from a tragic accident at the age of 12 in 2008. Class historian Emily Charest, who put together a slide show with music of the senior class shown at the graduation, said they would present Hagerman’s family with a cap.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASS OF 2014
Julie Avery, River Valley Community College; Brittany Bailey; Martinio Bailey; Caleb Beckley; Brooke Belanger; Brianna Blake, Southern New Hampshire University; Kaitlyn Bly-Cascio, RVCC; Cammie Brassfield; Jessica Brogren; Chelsea Brown; Zachary Bunnell, University of Rochester; Morgan Busby, RVCC; Courtney Carleton; Emily Charest, Southern New Hampshire University; Kenneth Claflin, post-graduate studies; Raymond Clough, RVCC; Seth Columbia; Stephen Crossley; Cassandra Cutts, University of Maine, Farmington; Cassondra Dale, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Jenna Deschaine, Saint Michael’s College; Kirsten Dole; Karlie Donovan, New England School of Hair Design; Abbey Duford, Lyndon State College; Ana Encinas, return to Bolivia; Isabelle Farnsworth; Savannah Ferland, Ringling College of Art and Design; Kylei Fischer, Johnson & Wales University; Alexander Fletcher; Joshua-Christopher Fontaine-Deth, RVCC; Desiree Gagnon, Culinary Institute of America; Olivia Gobin; Christina Greenleaf, post-graduate studies; Julia Hackett, University of New Hampshire; Jordan Haines, Vermont Academy; Elizabeth Holt, Saint Anselm College; Corrie Holtz, Keene State College. Diamonique Kemp; Cheyenne Kemper; Jonathon-Michael Kennett; Gabrielle Keyser, Castleton State College; Kai Kleyensteuber, UNH; Kaoutar Laari; Noureddine Laari; Noah Ladd, Plymouth State; Elizabeth LaPlume; Allison Lessard, Champlain College; Victoria Maslan, Lyndon State College; Alexis Melcher, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Emilee Miller, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine; Mitchell Mock; Rachel Nelson, Middlebury College; Heidi Neuhausser, Lyndon State College; Xuan Nguyen, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Zachary Nichols; Ivana Osborne, RVCC; Katharine Parker, Berklee College of Music; Austin Pedersen; Donald Pellerin, Plymouth State University; Kathleen Pettinato, Green Mountain College; Nicholas Pond; Alyssa Redman, Clark University; Katelyn Rhoades; Michael Owen Ritondo, Northeastern University; Alec Root, Lakes Region Community College; Spenser Root; Jonathan Russell, RVCC. Megan Saben, RVCC; Alycia Sanborn; Zachary Shedlock, Keene State College; Cody Simoneau, RVCC; Shannon Spaulding, Plymouth State University; Tiffany Spaulding; Frank William Sprague, RVCC; Christian Stone, U.S. Marines; Joshua Strobel, Rochester Institute of Technology; Ryan Tanguay, Salve Regina University; Angela Tarantino; Austin Tenney, Bentley University; Marlana Thibault, RVCC; Brianna Thurber, Project SEARCH; Tyson Varnkham, RVCC and U.S. Marines; Sammantha Vashaw, Champlain College; Sasha Vire; Curtis Weeks, Nathanul White; Angela Yacono, New England College.