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‘Seek Unlikely Community’: Lebanon Graduates Urged to Stretch Beyond Comfort Zone

  • Megan Willeman looks to the American flag during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The ceremony, which is normally held outdoors, had to be moved inside because of rain. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Megan Willeman looks to the American flag during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The ceremony, which is normally held outdoors, had to be moved inside because of rain. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hayden Dow adjusts his mortar board after receiving his diploma from Lebanon High School during commencement last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Hayden Dow adjusts his mortar board after receiving his diploma from Lebanon High School during commencement last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jeanette Hicks of Lebanon sneaks a kiss from her daughter Katelyn Rousseau before she returns to her seat with her diploma  last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Jeanette Hicks of Lebanon sneaks a kiss from her daughter Katelyn Rousseau before she returns to her seat with her diploma last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Megan Willeman looks to the American flag during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The ceremony, which is normally held outdoors, had to be moved inside because of rain. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Hayden Dow adjusts his mortar board after receiving his diploma from Lebanon High School during commencement last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Jeanette Hicks of Lebanon sneaks a kiss from her daughter Katelyn Rousseau before she returns to her seat with her diploma  last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Lebanon — The Lebanon High School graduation last night was at times very traditional, and at other times, very 2013.

Just a couple minutes into her salutation address, Kang-Chun Cheng was describing how high school can at the same time can feel like the “longest and shortest time” when she abruptly shifted to the topic of social media. Cheng spoke about how the “overwhelming new load of technology that has infiltrated this generation has only aided procrastination.

“Facebook, email, Twitter, Tumblr, blogging, Snapchat, Instagram,” said Cheng. “Speaking of which, I’m just going to go ahead and Instagram this.”

Parents, faculty, extended family, and classmates all broke into laughter in the packed gymnasium as Cheng pulled out her smartphone and instructed the Class of 2013 to “hold their poses.

“This is a good filter,” Cheng decided. “Let’s see, ‘At graduation! Hashtag: Lucky 13’s. Hashtag: Finally.’ Post.”

The indulgence in social networking was short-lived, and Cheng, who is headed to Dartmouth College, soon went on to recite many familiar motifs one might expect to hear at a high school graduation. She encouraged her classmates not to be afraid of hard work or failure as they venture out into unfamiliar territory.

Lebanon High School English teacher George Hanna delivered the commencement address on the importance of community and a reliance on the kindness of strangers.

“The catch with high school is that often it’s a community you have little choice in joining,” Hanna said. “ ... That’s about to change.”

Hanna urged the graduating class to find like-minded people, “And then go find people you have nothing in common with and make connections. Seek unfamiliar opportunities and people who at first you wouldn’t think you’d get to know,” Hanna said. “Seek unlikely community.”

Hanna also addressed social media in his speech, while highlighting the importance of face-to-face connections.

“You’ll see this technology is only a supplement, not a substitute, for community,” Hanna said. “We all need to reach out and take someone’s hand in our own and trust will develop.”

That trust, he said, could alleviate what is typically a natural “fear” or distrust of unfamiliar people.

“You will need people you don’t even know yet, and perhaps even more mind-boggling, people you don’t know yet will need you,” Hanna said.

After the ceremonies had ended, Elizabeth Shipley paused in a grid-locked hallway to reflect. The graduation was moved inside at the 11th hour as bad weather moved in.

Shipley said she was excited to be done, but called the evening “bittersweet.

“Our childhood is kind of gone,” Shipley said. “No more free schooling.”

Shipley said she was in the process of taking her licensed nursing assistant training course and would be attending Plymouth State University to study nursing.

While Shipley plans to stick relatively close to home, other students face difficult transitions ahead. Vincent Guerin, who grew up in Lebanon, said he is a little nervous about going to New York Film Academy in the fall to study acting. He added that he was happy to graduate, but the relief hadn’t quite sunk in for him yet.

“It hasn’t really hit me, I guess, but it will,” Guerin said. “Because high school’s over, you know?”

Alleigh Whiteside needed less time to digest the feeling, which she described as “amazing.”

“I feel on top of the world,” Whiteside said.

Whiteside, who sang in the choral department at the high school, said she was following her passion for singing and plans to study music with a concentration in voice at Miami University in Ohio.

“Yeah!” Whiteside beamed excitedly. “Taking it by the reins.”

Class of 2013

Taylor N. Anderson, Franklin Pierce University; Taniya Arora, Emmanuel College; Katrina M. Babbitt; Zachary T. Beaulieu; Benjamin Becker, University of Maine; Kyle J. Bellinger; Hallie L. Bergwall, St. Michael’s College; Sarah E.T. Berman, University of Maryland in College Park; Spencer F. Berry; Tansy M. Billin, Brigham Young University; Matthew A.C. Blackmon, University of South Carolina; Amber L. Blair, Johnson and Wales University; Gabriel H. Blanche; Geoffrey J. Blike, Dartmouth College; Caitlyn M. Botsford; Alisha N. Brayboy, Suffolk University; Phoebe M. Buckman, Keene State College; Rachel G. Burton, SUNY Cortland; Mary M. Caffrey, University of New Hampshire; Walker B. Camp, Keene State College; Daniela S. Caraeni, McGill University; Keiley E. Carey, New England College; Nikayla A. Cartier, University of Vermont; Keirsten K. Caswell, Empire Beauty School; Antonio E. Centonze; Madison B. Chartier, New Hampshire Institute of Art; Jing Jing Chen, Suffolk University; Kang-Chun Cheng, Dartmouth College; Tyler P. Cloutier; Corey A. Cole; Matthew F. Cole, Quinnipiac University; Alisabeth H. Collier; Chardonnay L. Colonese, U.S. Air Force; Katherine R. Colt, Widener University; Victoria R. Constantine, Emory University; Alison V. Coombs, Rider University; Dylan A. Cox, University of Massachusetts in Amherst; Donncha S.P. Coyle, University of Maine; Biranna L. Creighton; Hunter I. Crowe; Lincoln J. Crutchfield, University of New Hampshire; Avery A. Dail; Nina R. Dauphinais, Suffolk University; Griffin F. Decelles; Justin M. Densmore; Hayden A. Dow; Christina M. Drake, Nichols College; Dylan A. Drew, St. Anselm College; Ashlee A. Duplin, Keene State College; Christopher G. Eisener, University of New Hampshire; James R. Fadden; Dylan J. Findley; Montanna R. Findley, Michael’s School of Hair Design; Leah N. Foster, Plymouth State University; Taylor A. Friedman, Springfield College; Amelia J. Gage, Wheaton College; Hannah M. Gariepy, Babson College; Colin J. Gaynor; Amelia L.M. Gilchrist, University of Vermont; Emily W. Godfrey, St. Joseph’s College of Maine; Alexander C. Good, Savannah College of Art and Design; Casey M. Goodrich; Wyatt O. Goodwin, Bentley University; Ashley R. Goucher, Syracuse University; Mohitosh Gour, University of New Hampshire; Timothy J. Grace; Connor B. Greeley, Pennsylvania State University; Vincent J. Guerin, New York Film Academy; Amy L. Guyette; Sara K. Hagan, University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth; Sydney M. Hammond; David H. Hampton, St. Lawrence University; Alex C. Head; Sarah G.R. Heatherton, St. Lawrence University; Jesse A. Hernandez; Asher D. Hill, Lyndon State College; Liane F. Holdowsky, Tulane University; Deneale Hunter, U.S. Marine Corps; Phillip Hwang, University of New Hampshire; MinKyoung Jang, Yonsei University; Brittany J. Jenkins, Culinary Intitute of America; Robert R. Jette, River Valley Community College; Haley S. Jones; Alan M. Jordan; Haley D. Karr, University of Vermont; Jessica L. Keane; Emily K. Kehoe, St. Joseph’s College of Maine; Morgan C. Keller, Husson University; Jana Kleinschmidt, University of New Hampshire; Benajmin R. Krisik; Morgan M. LaBarre; Holden J. Lambert; Vi Elina T. Le, Bunker Hill Community College; Jennifer M. Lemay, Thomas College; HoMei Leung, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Flora M. Lopez; Laura E. Lopez; Jesse C. Lord, Johnson and Wales University; Annie M. Louzier, Kelly A. Ludew, Kylie M. Lytle, Brigham Young University; Kimberly V. MacLeod, Union College; Mariana D.V. Marcano; Caleb C. Maresca, Israeli Defense Forces; Trevor A. Marsh; Daniel S. Martin; Alexander R. Marvin; Travis A. Maxham; Erin M. McClory, Ithaca College; Kyle J. Merrihew, Plymouth State University; Tyler W. Miller; Victoria W.K. Mok, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Maureen E. Moran, Keene State College; Moriah E. Morton, Dartmouth College; Ashley M. Mossell, Gordon College; Galen D. Moynihan, Union College; Keegan M. Nadeau; Marissa A. Newlove, University of New Hampshire; Bradley S. Nichols Jr.; Evan J. O’Reilly, University of New Hampshire; Zachary J. Paul; Janell M. Peck; Marie D. Penet; Emily L. Place; Kenneth A. Pomerleau; Cameron I. Prince; Lindsay M. Pullen, Boston University; Shauna N. Rankin-Byrne, University of Massachusetts in Amherst; Shane H. Richardson, U.S. Army; Joshua C. Rios, Florida State University; Darryl Sean Rose; Katelyn J. Rousseau, Vet Tech Institute; Dakotah M. Rush; Jacob O. Ryder, SUNY Geneseo; Martin W. Sanborn, University of Vermont; Trina M. Scheier, University of Bridgeport; Cody R. Schettino; Colette C. Schmidt, University of Hartford; Jonathan G. Seguin; Heather L. Selmer, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Michael E. Servant, Paul Smith’s College; Ricardo D. Seymour; Elizabeth R. Shipley, Plymouth State University; Majot Singh, Keene State College; Leah Spencer; Raymond D. Streeter; Grace I.J. Sylvia, New York University; Andrew P. Taylor, University of New Hampshire; Jeffrey W. Taylor, University of New Hampshire; Sean A. Taylor, McGill University; Kyle J. Thibideau, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Victoria R. Tobin; Samantha Townsend, Southern New Hampshire University; Leanna J. Travis, University of Pittsburgh; Veronika Vadrnova; Kelsey J. Walker; Ava V. Wehde, Fort Lewis College; Cora J. Whaley; Ryan M. White, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Allison A. Whiteside, Miami University; Sarah V. Wilder, University of New Hampshire; Megan E. Willeman, Gordon College; Zachary M. Wilson; Justin L. Woodward.

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