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‘You’ve Got to Go For It’: 34 Sharon Academy Graduates Relate Learning From Experience

  • Sharon Academy senior Larkin Goode performs Miley Cyrus’ Butterfly Fly Away during her speech portion of Sharon Academy’s graduation at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Sharon Academy senior Larkin Goode performs Miley Cyrus’ Butterfly Fly Away during her speech portion of Sharon Academy’s graduation at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sharon Academy staff member Janice Stumpf switches the tassel on Angus Davis’ makeshift mortar, a fishing hat, after Davis gave his speech during the class of 2013’s graduation at The Sharon Academy in Sharon yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Sharon Academy staff member Janice Stumpf switches the tassel on Angus Davis’ makeshift mortar, a fishing hat, after Davis gave his speech during the class of 2013’s graduation at The Sharon Academy in Sharon yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sharon Academy senior Larkin Goode performs Miley Cyrus’ Butterfly Fly Away during her speech portion of Sharon Academy’s graduation at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Sharon Academy staff member Janice Stumpf switches the tassel on Angus Davis’ makeshift mortar, a fishing hat, after Davis gave his speech during the class of 2013’s graduation at The Sharon Academy in Sharon yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Sharon — From the outset, yesterday’s graduation ceremony at The Sharon Academy made sure it would be doing things a bit differently.

The class of 2013 strolled out to a recording of the customary march, Pomp and Circumstance, but except in this version there was a modern electronic drum beat to the traditional arrangement.

When the graduates got their turns to speak — in the school’s tradition, all graduates prepare remarks — some decided to use the time to recite a poem, perform a song or tell a shaggy dog-style joke.

“This group is remarkably talented,” said Head of School Michael Livingston in his remarks. “They’re bright, and extremely creative.”

He mentioned the class’ senior prank, the creation of the fictional Phoenix Country Club (named after the school’s mascot), which involved turning the entire school into a mini-golf course. Different classrooms received themed holes.

The 34 graduates sat behind him, all wearing green gowns, set against a forest green backdrop. Livingston proceeded to introduce each graduate, telling anecdotes about them as well as well as revealing the terms used by teachers and classmates to describe each student.

For instance, he told the friends and families packed into chairs on the gym floor, the bleachers and standing against the walls about his first experience with Abigail Dutton, who as a freshman took over his office to make some phone calls. When Livingston appeared in the doorway, she motioned to the school head that she’d be out of his office in 10 minutes, and shooed him away with a flick of her hand. (As Livingston went back to his seat yesterday, Dutton shooed him away with a similar flick.)

For that introduction, though, he mentioned the name of the graduate early on, and Dutton stood by his side for the remainder of the story. For some, he let the suspense linger.

In most cases, Livingston would introduce the graduate by name before launching their individual story. But in a few cases, he simply began telling the tale about the student before he identified them.

“Just follow my lead, please,” Livingston said, as he recited “knock, knock.” The audience in unison replied, “Who’s There?” Livingston respond, “Cows go.” The audience: “Cows go who?” Then he delivered the punch line, “No, no, they don’t. Cows go moo.”

At that moment Livingston turned around to the rows of graduates behind him, and it became clear about to whom the joke was directed: Colby Ebbighausen stood up, to peals of laughter from the crowd.

“He’s a natural comedian — he just can’t help it,” Livingston said.

Not missing a beat, Ebbighausen approached the lectern and reached its drawer. He popped up holding a fake Academy Award statuette.

“First of all,” he said, “I’d like to thank the Academy.”

For Kathleen Moore, Livingston described her as a “superhero without a cape.”

Moore herself told of the time she went on an arduous hike the day after prom when she had been up late dancing. Despite being tired from the night before, Moore said he learned that the memory far outweighed the physical discomfort she felt at the time.

“You’ve got to go for it,” she said. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Moore was also one of three Sharon Academy seniors to receive the Frank M. and Olive F. Gilman Foundation Scholarship, a $5,000 annual college scholarship given to graduates of 21 high schools predominately in the Upper Valley. None of the recipients knew they would receive the scholarship until Livingston announced the award during the ceremony.

Moore is planning to attend Massachusetts’s Wheaton College. The other two Gilman scholarship recipients were Rajana Dion, who is set to attend Johnson & Wales University, and Lucyanna Labadie, who will attend the University of Vermont.

Labadie also received a $1,000 Vermont Honors Scholar prize, chosen by the school’s staff.

During her remarks, Labadie launched into an a cappella call-and-response song with the crowd, continuing the ceremony’s theme of those on the platform interacting with the audience.

“I’m gonna let life move me,” she sang, and the audience sang it back to her. “I’m gonna let life stir me deep/ I’m gonna let life wake me from an ancient sleep/ I’m gonna laugh all my laughter/ I’m gonna cry all my tears/ I’m gonna love the rain just as deeply as the sun when it clears,” the verse went, as everyone followed along.

List of graduates: Samantha June Abrams, Gaysville, Beloit College; Amelia Hue Aldrich, Stockbridge, Union College; Susanna Sacca Billings, Tunbridge, American University; Angus Duncan Alexander Davis, Hartland, Gap Year; Rajana Arielle Dion, Sharon, Johnson & Wales University; Abigail Dutton, Sharon, Yale University; Seayra Dwyer, Sharon, Vermont Technical College; Colby Ryan Ebbighausen, North Hartland, Norwich University; Brent Ahern Edwards, Tunbridge, Champlain College; Mayah Etta Heike Fischer-Byrne, Strafford, Gap Year; Hannah M. Forbes, Randolph, The Evergreen State College; Leah Georgina Forbes, Randolph, Goucher College; Caleb Brewster Freeberg, Windsor, Eckerd College; Larken L. Goode, Woodstock, Lyndon State College; Evan Halnon, Sharon, University of Vermont; Hailey M. Heston, North Pomfret, Wheaton College MA; Galen James Higgins, Tunbridge, Lyndon State College; Brooke Robin Kennedy, Tunbridge, Johnson State College; Emma Kimball, Washington, College of the Atlantic; Lucyanna Labadie, Stockbridge, University of Vermont; Cassiopeia Rose Lee, Pittsfield, Smith College; Grayson William Levy, Stockbridge, Franklin Pierce University; Kathleen Agnes Moore, Hartland, Wheaton College MA; Trenton Scott Morrison, Tunbridge, Green Mountain College; Cameron Andrew Jin Pattison, Sharon, Colorado College; Elizabeth Potter, Sharon, University of Vermont; Eliza Rittenhouse Putnam, Hartland, Fordham University; Alexandra Hunt Robertson, Stockbridge, Johnson State College; Evan Durkes Roe, Sharon, Vermont Technical College; Asa Wren Rubin-Crump, Sharon, Wheaton College MA; Mario Francis Billings Sacca, Tunbridge, Quest University Canada; Benjamin Simone, Sharon, Johnson State College; Cobalt Antoine Tolbert, Randolph, Bennington College; Titien Ray Tolbert, Randolph, Bennington College

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

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