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Sunflowers And Sunshine In Woodstock

Jack Fitzpatrick gets a hug from his friend Alexis Em Blanchard after they graduated in Woodstock last night.(Valley News - Maggie Cassidy)

Jack Fitzpatrick gets a hug from his friend Alexis Em Blanchard after they graduated in Woodstock last night.(Valley News - Maggie Cassidy) Purchase photo reprints »

Woodstock — Boys in green robes, girls in white, and all with sunflowers pinned above their hearts: The 87 graduates of the Class of 2013 moved in unison last night as they shifted their tassels from left to right, the sun setting over the fields behind Woodstock Union High School.

It brought to a close a pleasant Friday evening that saw blue skies and mild temperatures — and marked the end of their time together as one class, one unit.

“I can feel the tears coming,” Jack Fitzpatrick said, before hugging fellow graduate Alexis Em Blanchard.

“It’s an extremely satisfying feeling; I know that I’ve made so many bonds with so many of these classmates,” he said afterward, “so it’s just going to be tough to see them go.”

In the hours before, the Class of 2013 celebrated its time together, in big ways and small. Gathering in the school gym around 5 p.m., they chatted and hugged and laughed, some helping the others complete the finishing touches on their caps and outfits. They used pins to adorn each other in the sunflowers, their designated class flower.

In the shady field outside, the graduates were greeted by a huge crowd of friends and family. Just moments before the seniors began their slow, deliberate march to the their seats, the sun returned, shining brightly.

“Tonight, high school choices are largely behind us, but they’ve been memorialized in the lasting friendships we’ve made, the lessons we’ve learned from our incredibly supportive teachers, and in our unique decisions — college, gap years, work, the military,” salutatorian Asa Waterworth told her classmates. “Graduation is a celebration of free will.”

Members of the school’s Speakchorus paid tribute to each one of their graduating classmates in a 20-minute rundown of each person’s most notable accomplishments, personality traits or memories from as early as kindergarten. The tribute was capped with Berklee College of Music-bound Jack Snyder singing the lines from the Carole King song You’ve Got a Friend a cappella.

Class president Katherine Leavitt spoke to her class’ strength during events such as helping the state rebound from the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, and, years earlier, choosing to give their class funds to a student from a younger class who had suffered serious injuries during a bike accident. And valedictorian Anthony Bald reminded them that “we’re capable of more than we know.”

“To my class, during this time before leaving the security of high school, I encourage you to appreciate the simplicity in your lives,” he said. “Sometimes there’s nothing better than a cold iced tea outside on a beautiful Vermont afternoon. The simple things make the difference and the simple things keep us happy.”

The night also featured a brief ceremony recognizing the Class of 1963, many of whom were in attendance to received honorary diplomas for their class’s 50th anniversary; a performance of Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water by the Treble Choir; and Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way by the concert band.

Soon, though, School Board Chairman Dwight Doton was handing out diplomas, principal Greg Schillinger was announcing the class, and Superintendent Alice Worth was asking them to move their tassels.

“I just can’t believe that we actually did it this year. It’s crazy, everyone’s so stoked,” new graduate Mikayla Perkins said. “I have enjoyed being part of this class very much. ... There were no distinct cliques; we were pretty much just all one big family. We all stuck up for each other and helped each other get it done, which was really nice. I’m going to miss this class so much.”

Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220.

Class of 2013: Julia Jacqueline Ambrose, McGill University; Emma Elizabeth Astbury, St. Joseph’s College of Maine; Anthony Peter Bald, Pomona College; Denali Beth Balser, University of Vermont; Elizabeth Anne Bassette, Defer/Hillsdale College; Richard Kingman Beda, Culinary Institute of America; Indi H. Bjornsson, Maine College of Art; Emma Gwendolyn Blaiklock, Castleton State College; Alexis Em Blanchard, Montana State University; Kayla Marie Blodgett; Austin Levi Cawley-Edwards, Defer/Steven’s Institute of Technology; Chelsea Frances Cloud, Nichols College; Wesley Paul Clutts, Southern Maine Community College; Roxi Hope Coleman, McFatter Technical Center; Daniel James Crean, United States Air Force; Robert Francis Crean, Work; Jacqueline Hird Davenport, University of Rhode Island; Jesse Hilton Davis, United States Navy; Suzannah Dickinson, Life-sharing experience at Heartbeet; Edward Benjamin Doton, St. Lawrence University; James Patrick Durand, American University; Aidan James Ellis, Middle Tennessee State University; William B. Emmons IV, Vermont Technical College; Hannah Rose Epworth, Community College of Vermont; Marc Khuec Mean Veasna Findeisen, Roger Williams University; Kevin John Fitzpatrick, University of Vermont; Zachary Alan Fraser, Daniel Webster College; Matthew Timothy Frates, Pennsylvania State University; Travis Hanlon Gault, Castleton State; Trenton Glaser; Victoria Graham, Undecided; Cheyonne Rae Grindel, New England School of Hair Design; Anastasia Lara Haimovitz, Connecticut College, Undecided; Kelsey Erin Harrington, University of New Hampshire, Undecided; Samantha Kay Harrington, University of Maine, Orono, Undecided; Christine Nicole Harris, University of New Hampshire; Randie Heidelmeier, Work; Lauren Michelle Horsman, PrattMWP; Luke Alden Jacobs; Tyler J. Jillson; Christopher P. Kendall; Alexander Morse King, William and Mary; Reid Daniel Langona, Emmanuel College; Katherine Marie Leavitt, Muhlenberg College; Sophia Hastings Leiter, Defer/Middlebury College; Tucker T. Lemmer, Montserrat College of Art; Merranda Elizabeth May Lenahan, Russell Sage College; Taylor Benson Lessard, Montana State University; Abigail Brooks Levison, Lewis and Clark College; Delaney Christine Little, Ithaca College; Justin Bailey Martel, Community College of Vermont; Sawyer Claes Arne Mattsson, Gap Year; Lauren Leigh Mayer, Macalaster College; Tessa Bryn Mellinger, Rochester Institute of Technology; Harlei Merriam; Elizabeth Ellis Miller, St. Lawrence University; James Melwin Morgan, Jr., New Hampshire Technical Institute; Lexi Rae Osgood, Undecided, Nursing; Ambrosia Parker; Kyle Bryan Pearsons, Work; Mikayla Jackilynn Perkins, Vermont Technical College; Jalen Cristen Peterson, United States Navy; Joshua Bruce Putnam, Work; Sean Mahlon Larson Ritchie, Berklee School of Music; Larissa Ann Riviezzo, New England School of Hair Design; Elena Rose Santos, Defer/Green Mountain College; Evan Joseph Sawyer, Community College of Vermont; Hunter Brown Schmell, Stevenson University; Hunter William Schulz, Work; Taylor Rose Seymour, Lyndon State; Amiri Christine Smith, Ithaca College; John McGimsey Snyder, Berklee School of Music; Nicholas James Sprague, University of New Hampshire; Jaired Avery Stewart, University of Vermont; Nicole I. Stone, Colorado Mesa University; Joseph Stone Jr.; Dylan Timothy Stuntz, American University; Cassandra Clarice Titus, Community College of Vermont; Erin Joan Tortolano, Vermont Technical College; Quinn M. Trainer, St. Lawrence University; Camille Ellen Van Alstyne, Work; Kara Van Herwarde, Clarkson University; Asa B. Waterworth, Defer/Connecticut College; Kiersten Rene Weiss, Syracuse University; Jocelyn A. Werle, Fordham University; Ainsley Rose Wilding, St. Michael’s College; Bryan Michael Willette, Travel and Work.