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‘We Did Everything Together’

Tight-Knit Sunapee Graduates See 27-Member Class as ‘Family’

  • Mariah Tenney, right, straightens the tassle of her classmate Megan Brewer before filing off the bus and into Sunapee Middle High School commencement in Sunapee last night. Tenney is the salutatorian for the class of 27 students. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Mariah Tenney, right, straightens the tassle of her classmate Megan Brewer before filing off the bus and into Sunapee Middle High School commencement in Sunapee last night. Tenney is the salutatorian for the class of 27 students. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sunapee Middle High School Assistant Principal Holly Norton gives shelter to Hayley Clark and Rylee Weinstein as they board a bus bound during the rain for their commencement in Sunapee yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Sunapee Middle High School Assistant Principal Holly Norton gives shelter to Hayley Clark and Rylee Weinstein as they board a bus bound during the rain for their commencement in Sunapee yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mariah Tenney, right, straightens the tassle of her classmate Megan Brewer before filing off the bus and into Sunapee Middle High School commencement in Sunapee last night. Tenney is the salutatorian for the class of 27 students. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Sunapee Middle High School Assistant Principal Holly Norton gives shelter to Hayley Clark and Rylee Weinstein as they board a bus bound during the rain for their commencement in Sunapee yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Sunapee — Not even dreary weather could dampen the spirits of 27 energetic Sunapee Middle High School graduates at their commencement ceremony last night.

Heavy rain brought the graduation indoors and the just over one hour ceremony played out at Sherburne Gymnasium where graduates spoke of the tight-knit community they grew up in.

Many of the graduates have attended classes together since kindergarten and some said small-town ways shaped them into the individuals they are today.

“We did everything together, so all of our stuff was class driven,” said graduate Conor Curry, who will study neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall. “I was out doing stuff that I would never do on my own just because of my friends doing it and it was a great positive influence and made me who I am today.”

Graduate Mary Cox agreed.

“You are able to know everyone so much better and it definitely feels like you are in a family,” she said. “You can rely on people to help you and it feels like you are secure and that you have a safety net.”

After graduate Mariah Tenney gave the salutatory speech last night, a vibrant applause rippled throughout the gymnasium. Tenney reminisced of the past 13 years and further touched on the importance of community.

“(You should) appreciate that these teachers know your names, nick names and even who you are dating,” Tenney said laughingly. “We are not just classmates, we are pretty much brothers and sisters.”

Tenney also spoke of the hardships that once challenged her classmate, such as striving to get an “A” on “that” test, or losing “that” game. However, she said, the lessons learned are what prevailed.

“(You) don’t remember the test, but the teacher,” she said, adding you don’t remember the score of the game, instead, more importantly, you remember the meaning of team. “What we remember the most now is what we focused on the least,” she said.

Valedictorian Bridget Sherwin summed up the school years as “bittersweet.”

Sherwin said those years, combined with the Sunapee community and each graduate’s family helped build a foundation that’s worth standing on.

“(That) foundation is a building block for the rest of our lives and is here to support us,” Sherwin said.

Nine boys and 18 girls crossed the stage last night singling the end of one chapter, but the beginning of a new one.

The majority of graduates will attend two and four-year colleges in the fall and with $39,450 in scholarship funds from individuals in surrounding communities, the financial burden will be less cumbersome.

Graduates received finances from more than 35 area scholarship funds, with some funds donating multiple awards.

With tears in her eyes graduate Megan Brewer, who received more than $1,500 in scholarships, said she wasn’t sure if she liked living in such a small town and that it crossed her mind to move to larger community. With guidance however, she said, she came to understand the small-town benefits and decided to stay.

“I realized how important it is to have a strong community net underneath you in case you fall,” Brewer said. “Any mistakes that you make, everybody forgives you and everybody knows you and your character and it’s so, so important to have that community feel.”

Brewer will attend Coastal Carolina University in the fall.

Sunapee High graduates: Angelica M. Aguilera; Jack Berthiaume, Wooster College; Megan Brewer, Coastal Carolina University; Corinne Brown, River Valley CC; Addie Cain, Simmons College; Asha Clark, Plymouth State; Hayley Clark, Plymouth State; Mary Cox, Montserrat; Conor Curry, University of Pittsburgh; Maranda Deane, River Valley CC ; Josh Drummond, NHTI; Portia Eastman, University of Rhode Island; Casey Hargbol, UNH; Crista Hargbol, UNH; Matt Humphrey, River Valley CC; Alex James Janas; Rachael Alison Longtin; Matt McAlister, Paul Smith’s College; Mary O’Brien, River Valley CC/Keene State College; Sydney O’Mara, NHTI; Kevin Parsons, Thomas College; Bridget Sherwin, Quinnipiac University; Noah Skarin, Bentley College; Erin St Laurent, Castleton State College; Mariah Tenney, UNH; Mariah Sturtevant, Plymouth State; Rylee Weinstein, University of Rhode Island.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@gmail.com.

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