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‘The Rest Is Up to You’

Dickens Inspired Ceremony Sends Off Randolph Union Graduates

  • Randolph Union High School's class of 67 graduating seniors cross the school grounds to commencement in Randolph, Vt. Friday, June 20, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Randolph Union High School's class of 67 graduating seniors cross the school grounds to commencement in Randolph, Vt. Friday, June 20, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Graduating seniors Hanna Baker, left, and Johanna Sargent, right, speak as representatives of Brookfield Elementary School, one of three that feed students to Randolph Union High School , during commencement in Randolph, Vt. Friday, June 20, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Graduating seniors Hanna Baker, left, and Johanna Sargent, right, speak as representatives of Brookfield Elementary School, one of three that feed students to Randolph Union High School , during commencement in Randolph, Vt. Friday, June 20, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Randolph Union High School's class of 67 graduating seniors cross the school grounds to commencement in Randolph, Vt. Friday, June 20, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Graduating seniors Hanna Baker, left, and Johanna Sargent, right, speak as representatives of Brookfield Elementary School, one of three that feed students to Randolph Union High School , during commencement in Randolph, Vt. Friday, June 20, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Randolph — Charles Dickens was in the air Friday night at Randolph Union High School’s 2014 graduation. The class of 2014 chose past, present and future as the theme of their graduation, and that theme permeated the ceremony as the graduates concluded one phase of their lives and entered another.

After Superintendent Brent Kay and Co-principal David Barnett made their introductions, the senior speakers, or the “ghosts of the past” gave their speeches.

The seniors reminisced about their pasts at the three different elementary schools that funneled the students into the high school. In lieu of valedictorians and salutatorians, Zach Shaw and Shavonna Bent represented Braintree Elementary School, Hanna Baker and Johanna Sargent represented Brookfield Elementary School and Kelsey Stratton and Samantha Tabor represented Randolph Elementary School.

Shaw and Bent read a poem from their elementary school graduation, which included shout-outs to many of their classmates. Sixty-seven seniors — plus five exchange students — graduated Friday night.

“Thank you to new friends and old,” Bent said.

Baker and Sargent adapted the theme song of the television show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” telling the story of “how we came to Brookfield.”

“It’s crazy to think that only six years ago, we were graduating from Randolph Elementary,” Stratton said.

“Once I got to seventh grade, I wanted to go back because I was afraid of change and all of the unfamiliar faces that surrounded me,” Tabor said. “But our personalities bloomed and the unfamiliar faces became lifelong friends.”

Co-principal Elijah Hawkes, the ghost of the present, cited disturbing statistics about the rate of child mortality in the Middle East, the number of children who have crossed the border into the United States looking for asylum and the number of school shootings that occur each week. He then played the recording of a conversation between Oshea Israel, a man who committed murder, and Mary Johnson, the mother of the man Israel killed. In the conversation, Johnson forgives Israel.

“That’s all I have for you, seniors,” Hawkes said. “Some pretty scary numbers, and a story about love. The rest is up to you.”

Martina O’Donnell, a humanities teacher and the ghost of the future,” advised the graduates that there were ten items they needed to pack for their journey into the future.

“The first thing is a sense of adventure,” O’Donnell said, pulling a hat and binoculars out of a prop bag. “Whether you stay in the rolling green hills of Vermont or sail to the South Pacific, there are always people to meet, places to see and foods to taste — or better yet, old friends and family to rediscover.”

Later in the speech, O’Donnell pulled out an energizer battery.

“Stamina and perseverance. Being an adult can often feel like a marathon, a wrestling match or an uphill climb on poorly-waxed skis. But the rewards of perseverance are great, if you just keep pushing through.”

Pulling a variety of different shoes from the prop bag, O’Donnell emphasized the necessity of “proper footwear for all occasions.”

“Let your shoes keep you warm, comfortable and take you where you need to go,” she said.

Another “item” was the ability to laugh.

“Humor lightens your burdens and keeps you grounded,” O’Donnell said. “There’s nothing that makes you feel better than a good belly laugh.”

O’Donnell paused for a moment, sorting through the bag to find a head of broccoli.

“Make healthy choices,” she said. “Eat your greens, stay active, get enough sleep and eat as much dark chocolate as needed.”

The final item on the list was memories.

“You’ve accumulated more than a suitcase’s worth of memories,” O’Donnell told the graduates. “While we can’t travel to the past, we can have some of those good times back if we just remember them.

“So there’s my suitcase full of motherly advice to help you through the future,” she concluded. “I wish each and every one of you a fabulous journey.”

Lauren Bender can be reached at lbender@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.

Class of 2014

Katharine S. Abdel-Fatah; Caroline Adams; Samantha Alexander; Alexandra Carlovna Aronson; Mikhail Carlovich Aronson; Tessa Noel Audette; Dillion Bachand; Hanna M. Baker; Shavonna Marie Bent; Colby David Brooks; Ross Michael Caswell; Ashlie Margaret Cayia; Avery Gustave Corey; Sierra Courville; Ernest David Craney III; Jodi Lynn Daigneault; Shania Marie Dezotell; Geoffrey Parr Doering; Bridgette Ann Draper; Cassidy Engberg; Logan E. Farmer; Samantha L. Farnham; Timothy Farrington; William Flint; Justin Green; Brittany M. Greene; Hariza NoviShara Gunawan; Sarah Ann Hicks; Eric Michael Hildenbrand; Charles Hayes Holman III; Dylan Jacobs; Christian Richard Jarvis; Sascha Joelle Jarvis; Amanda Marie Johnson; Rhys Miklos Hary Keenhold; Vaughn Claude Keenhold; Brandon Keyes; Kevin Joseph Kresock; Brittney Louise LaFreniere; Haddie Patrice; Melinda Lary; George Leonard; Jaqulyn D. Lumbra; Kyle Richard Magnant; Alyssa J. Miller; William Morgan III; Alyssa Munyon; Richard Thomas O’Connell II; Adam Christopher Palazzo; Taniesha L. Philbrick; Heather M. Robinson; Jacob Rose; Teresa Kiyoko Sakai; Joseph William Salls; Johanna Sargent; Sharon Siciliano; Zachary Kyle Shaw; Elizabeth Morgan Start; Kelsey Lee Stratton; Samantha Ann Tabor; Austen Breed Tallman; Brooke Mariah Thompson; Amanda Ukasick; Ethan Albert van Gulden; Kalie Dinay Warner; Lance Norman Whitcomb.