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Whitcomb Class of 2013 Thanks Its Supporters

Emilia Monsalve accepts her diploma at Whitcomb High School’s graduation ceremony in Bethel yesterday morning. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

Emilia Monsalve accepts her diploma at Whitcomb High School’s graduation ceremony in Bethel yesterday morning. (Ben DeFlorio photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

Bethel — Yesterday’s graduation ceremony marked a time to recognize not only the 20 graduates of Whitcomb High School, but also the people who got them there. As the ceremony approached, these people — families, friends, neighbors and community members — filled the tent, armed with cameras, laughing and chattering in anticipation.

The commencement was, quite literally, nestled in the midst of the Bethel community: Down on the newly mown ball fields along Route 12, Whitcomb’s graduation tent appeared to be cradled in the greenery of the surrounding hills.

At 11 a.m. sharp, 20 robed graduates marched in and seated themselves on folding chairs in front of a green-and-white backdrop that declared the cause of the celebratory atmosphere: Whitcomb High School Class of 2013.

In his opening remarks, Principal Kevin Dirth asked seniors to “take a good, focused look into the audience” and appreciate the support they’ve received.

Requesting that parents, other family members, school personnel and faculty, friends, and community members all stand, Dirth pointed out that nearly the entirety of the filled tent had been acknowledged.

Referring to a quote by Henry Ford, he told the graduates, “You are the end result of coming together, staying together and working together and everyone here is part of that success.

“We need each other.”

David Bagley, the Class of 2013’s longtime bus driver, echoed this shared sense of celebration and unanimity. “Most of you were very young when we first met and what a joy it is to see you here as young adults,” he said.

“The qualities that brought you this far will bring you farther,” he added, citing the courage and sportsmanship and kindness he’s witnessed over the years.

Bagley also drew laughs as he recalled the time shared with much of the class: “We’ve visited every McDonald’s in Vermont and most of New Hampshire.”

Student remarks exuded a determined optimism for the future. “There are more than 7 billion people in the world and our class is only 20 of them,” said valedictorian Amanda Cassidy. “Although we are a minuscule percentage of the world, 100 percent of us can make a difference in it.”

Cassidy implored her classmates to challenge themselves, adhere to their beliefs, and act with generosity. “You have two hands,” she said,” One for helping yourself and one for helping others.”

Salutatorian Teresa Claughton urged listeners make the most of future opportunities.

“Choice, not chance, determines your destiny,” she said, quoting Aristotle. “Whatever your feelings toward these past four years, we will have new things to celebrate and achieve, just as long as we remember to strive for it.”

Congratulating her classmates, she concluded, “Let’s not allow these to be the best years of our lives.”

In their performance of Billy Joel’s Vienna, graduates Mackenzie Delia and Allison Poljacik pointed to the uncertainty and the possibility as young adults. “You’re so ambitious for a juvenile,” they sang, accompanied by music instructor Shannon Bonsignore on piano. “But then if you’re so smart, then tell me, why are you still so afraid?”

Following the addresses, assistant Principal Andra Bowen awarded more than $48,000 in scholarships and grants, donated by families and community members, and Dirth and School Board member Kristin LaFromboise presented diplomas.

As the song It’s Time by Imagine Dragons rang out, the graduates sauntered and danced out of the tent for photographs and hugs under the cloudless sky.

Class of 2013

Here are the Whitcomb High graduates and their plans for the future, as provided by the school: Bruce Bryan Jr., Lincoln Technical Institute; Melissa Carrier-Hatch, work; Amanda Cassidy, UVM; Teresa Claughton, UVM; Caleb Chase, gap year/work; Matthew Decoff, gap year/work; Mackenzie Delia, Army National Guard; Mariah Ertel, Stonehill College; Lyndon Flint, work; Summer Flint, work/gap year; Reba Hart, Vermont Technical College; Colby Hodgdon, work; Matthew Kill, Navy; Alex Messier, work; Emilia Monsalve, Ecuador/college; Tim Patch Jr., Air Force; Allison Poljacik, work/applying to CCV; Tyler Strong, Castleton State College; Jenna Townsend, Navy; Cambry Zullick, Lyndon State College.

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Twenty graduating seniors received their diplomas during Whitcomb High School’s commencement in Bethel, Vt., on June 15, 2013. Ben DeFlorio photographs …