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Sending Them On Their Way

Mascoma Valley’s 93 Graduates Remember a Classmate Who Died Last Fall

  • Above: Naomi Nelson leads the Mascoma graduating class in a song during commencement.  Accompanying her at far left is Chris Sanborn with the ukelele and Eric Petersson on guitar. (Medora Hebert photograph)

    Above: Naomi Nelson leads the Mascoma graduating class in a song during commencement. Accompanying her at far left is Chris Sanborn with the ukelele and Eric Petersson on guitar. (Medora Hebert photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amanda Turcotte gives high-fives to her classmates at Mascoma’s commencement ceremony as they were being seated. (Medora Hebert photograph)

    Amanda Turcotte gives high-fives to her classmates at Mascoma’s commencement ceremony as they were being seated. (Medora Hebert photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Above: Naomi Nelson leads the Mascoma graduating class in a song during commencement.  Accompanying her at far left is Chris Sanborn with the ukelele and Eric Petersson on guitar. (Medora Hebert photograph)
  • Amanda Turcotte gives high-fives to her classmates at Mascoma’s commencement ceremony as they were being seated. (Medora Hebert photograph)

West Canaan — The class of 2013 spent some of their final moments together, as so many from Mascoma Valley Regional High School have before them, standing in two lines at the foot of the steep grassy hill that runs to the school’s entrance, fidgeting with their gowns and chatting expectantly.

“I’m nervous,” one said.

“Chill out,” said another.

“Where’s your mom?” someone else asked.

“Watch it start pouring,” a pessimist intoned.

But the rains never came, the chatter mellowed when the band struck up Pomp and Circumstance, and 93 seniors received their diplomas during a sun-splashed ceremony in which a classmate who didn’t make it to the celebration was nonetheless omnipresent.

Valedictorian Gareth Solbeck, who is heading to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall, challenged his classmates to do something worthwhile with their newfound freedom.

But their next moves didn’t have to be big to be useful, Solbeck said.

Even renovating a local park, or comforting a friend in pain, helps change the world, he said.

“From here on, we do what we want,” Solbeck said. “How about starting a seafood buffet right here in Canaan? Why now? We are free. But with freedom, comes responsibility. No matter what you do, change the world.”

Salutatorian Kiah Laramie was similarly insistent on the need for action.

“We are ready to make the next step,” Laramie said. “We shouldn’t be afraid.”

Class President Kathleen Langlands, who preceded Solbeck to the podium, celebrated what she said had been an unusually tight-knit group.

“We have become a family,” said Langlands. “We have fought like siblings, and made up like best friends. We have accepted each other for who we are.”

But that family was missing its 94th member last night, and it was rare that a few minutes passed without someone mentioning her. Amanda Foden, 17, died in October, weeks after learning that her cancer was terminal.

A Grafton resident, Foden had hoped to teach history one day.

Among many passions, Foden was fond of tie-dyed clothing: Earlier this year, the football team wore tie-dyed socks during a game to honor her.

Her loss, teachers and students said last night, brought the class together.

“You have done an amazing job honoring Amanda and I hope you will carry her with you always,” social studies teacher Amanda Valliere, whom the students elected to speak, told the class.

Principal James Collins told a crowd of more than 900 friends and family that the class of 2013 had always been unusually kind to one another, and only grew closer while coping with the loss of Foden.

“This class … experienced the love and support of citizens of the community,” Collins said. “We learned you need to devote yourself to loving others, you need to devote yourself to your community, you need to devote yourself to something that gives you purpose. I love the Class of 2013, I love the way they care about each other.”

And Naomi Nelson introduced a song she played on her guitar with a simple dedication.

“This is for Amanda Foden,” Nelson said. “She deserves it. She brought us the sun today, and all I can say is thanks.”

After Nelson finished her song and the entire class sang Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way, it was time for students to come to the stage, hear their names called aloud, and enjoy a brief moment of applause.

Superintendent Patrick Andrew told students to move the tassels to the opposite side of their caps, and still another song, It’s Time, by Imagine Dragons, was blasted from the speakers.

As it rang out, parents snapped photos and craned their necks for a good look.

The students heaved their caps aloft, and went their separate ways.

Class of 2013

Chalyn Elizabeth Albano, River Valley Community College; Morgan Chelsea Albrecht, workforce; Amanda Marie Arnold, Averett University; Mercedes April Baker, workforce; Ariele Paige Barrile, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Damien Michael Bartlett, workforce; Cody Andrew Battis, Rochester Institute of Technology; Jordan William Bender, United States Navy; Robert Edward Blum, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Matthew Frederick Boucher, workforce; Justin Daniel Bowlin, workforce; Cameron Michael Braley, Keene State College; Nathan Robert Brown, College at Brockport; Todd William Buckwold, workforce; Steven Ryan Cadreact, workforce; Tamara Marilyn Cantlin, Rivier University; Jessica Hope Carman, New England School of Hair Design; ChingHei “Ricky” Cheng, Rochester Institute of Technology; Nicholas James Colaiacomo, Warren Wilson College; Morgan Pearl Coleman, University of Southern Maine; Peter John Cook, workforce; Jacob Maxwell Coulter, workforce; Megan Frances Crate, Western New England; John Thomas Daley, United States Army; Kierra Jeanette Davis, River Valley Community College; Eliza Mae Densmore, workforce; Haley Christine Dixon Armstrong, Atlantic State University; Haley Lynn Donohoe, New England School of Hair Design; Dalton John Dube, United States Army; Adam James Dutille, University of New England; Thomas Ryan Engelhart, workforce; Nicholas Shawn Carleton Farnsworth, Alfred State SUNY College of Technology; Nicole Elizabeth Farnsworth, University of New Hampshire; Travers Mark Findley, Colby Sawyer College; Wyatt Raymond Giguere, United States Coast Guard; Jennifer Frances Gilmore, Endicott College; Rebecca Lynn Gravel, Vermont Technical College; Steven Albert Griswold, Franklin Pierce University; Hannah Nichole Haskins, River Valley Community College; Jessica Anne Hill, workforce; Michael Alan Howe, workforce; Dylan Frederick Hurd, Lebanon College; Samantha Rebecca Hurley, Western New England University; Adrianne Lee Jenkins, Job Corps; Aleah D Judd, Plymouth State University; Jesse Kampen, workforce; Nathaniel Allan Kocurek, workforce; Kori Joanne Kosiorek, Endicott College; Kathleen Michelle Langlands, Keene State College; Emily Alice Langley, Clark University; Kiah Myrick Laramie, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Kayla Carmela Larocque, Franklin Pierce University; Meagan Leigh Lashua, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Travis Dean Lashua, workforce; Colin Scott Lavertue, Paul Smith’s College; Hunter Jon Leveille, Southern Maine Community College; Sabrina Skye Lewellyn, workforce; Richard Scott Longley, workforce; Sawyer Joseph Lyman, National Guard & Paul Smith’s College; Victoria Leigh Makalinaw, Plymouth State University; Seth Edwin Marrotte, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Taylor Lynn Martin, Plymouth State University; Richard Fred Maurer III, River Valley Community College; Abigail Gene Maryanne Michaels, Plymouth State University; Marcus Daniel Moses, workforce; Catie Jayne Mylott, Keene State College; Naomi Glee Nelson, Montana State University; Spencer William Niemi, workforce; Kalyn Arleen O’Connell, River Valley Community College; Meghan Elizabeth O’Connell, New Hampshire Institute of Art; Eric Westney Petersson, University of New Hampshire; John Andrew Phillips, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Savanna Louise Pierce, River Valley Community College; Spencer Freeman Pierce, Plymouth State University; Marissa Nicole Roberts, workforce; Christopher Charles Sanborn, University of New England; Alison Elizabeth Santor, Paul Mitchell Beauty School; Michael Anthony Seiffert, United States Navy; Gareth Reid Solbeck, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Zachary Andrew Stalker, Southern New Hampshire University; Emily Anne Sweet, Roger Williams University; Melanie Taylor, Lyndon State College; Erin Marie Tevere, University of New England; Seth Alden Thibodeau, workforce; Dylan Carter Thompson, workforce; Sheri Lynn Tomkiewicz, Endicott College; Amanda Rochelle Turcotte, Bristol Community College; Kristina Abigail Valley, University of New Hampshire; Zachary Matthew Warner, United States Navy; Sara Jeanne Westover, workforce; Thomas Elijah Wood, workforce; Hannah Maye Woods, Plymouth State University.

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or (603) 727-3304.

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Ninety-three graduating seniors received their diplomas during Mascoma Valley Regional High School’s commencement held in West Canaan, N.H., on June 15, 2013. Medora Hebert photographs …