Simple Ceremony at Rivendell
Rivendell Acadey graduate Kaitlin Maddock fires a tube of confetti to celebrate the close of her high school career at yesterday’s ceremony. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Valedictorian Christina Moreland delivers her address to the graduating class at Rivendell Academy’s commencement in Orford yesterday. In the speech, she talked of the necessity of not fearing failure. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Rivendell Academy graduate Shawn Farnham takes a look inside his diploma cover with classmate Lacey Stever during yesterday’s commencement ceremony in Orford. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Orford — After a graduation speech, it was time for a graduation song.
Two soon-to-be Rivendell Academy graduates, Margaret McCormack and Molly Pierson, got up from their seats in the high school’s gym and moved toward the front of the stage, facing hundreds of friends and family packed into the floor seats and bleachers.
Pierson flashed a thumbs-up at the instrumentalists on the floor, and Nickel Creek’s When You Come Back Down began.
The duo were two of the 44 graduates class in this year’s class, a group that speakers lauded for its warmness and humor yesterday during a 90-minute ceremony packed with allusions to inventors, painters and singers.
First came a reference to Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple, courtesy of Superintendent Brenda Needham, who said she had recently read his 600-page biography. She was struck by his brilliance, creativity, drive and uniqueness, but also took away a quote of his she found instructive:
“Simple can be harder than complex,” Needham said, quoting Jobs. “You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
She then placed her own addendum on the quote: “Avoid the clutter of life. Keep it simple. Focus on what’s ethical, responsible and what’s the right thing.”
The idea of simplicity became a running theme through the graduation. Keri Gelenian, the head of school and principal of Rivendell Academy, noted that the specifics of what Rivendell students have learned — certain dates, mathematical formulas, and so on — were not as important as the principles behind them — historical impact, problem solving, and so on.
“You’re a caring group of individuals,” Gelenian said. “I know, in time, all of you will leave a positive mark on this crazy world.” In order to leave such a mark, said graduate Christina Moreland in her valedictory address, the class has to always try, even if — and when — certain things don’t work out.
The Bowdoin College-bound graduate told a story about her first meet as a member of the school’s cross country team, when she didn’t eat or drink enough before the race, ran about 98 percent of the course, and passed out 100 yards from the finish line.
The lesson from that, plus a meticulously planned senior trip to Lake George, N.Y., that was cut short by rain?
“Sometimes,” she said, “life sucks.”
That was lesson one. Lesson two?
“Ignore lesson one,” Moreland said. “Forget everything I just said. Understand it, and then realize it, and then forget it.”
Class adviser Jennifer Ellis, who also teaches art, donned an apron to set the appropriate mood for her speech.
She quoted notable PBS painter Bob Ross, who said there are no such thing as mistakes, just “happy accidents.”
“Flexibility is a major key to success,” she said.
Other speakers gave advice to the graduates on how to make it in the future, whether the immediate future means college, entry into the workforce or something else.
“It’s OK if you don’t know who you are,” said Stephanie Wright, a recent Rivendell graduate, reading the salutatorian speech prepared by her sister Stacie, who was unable to attend the ceremony. “You will get there someday.”
After Wright’s speech, it was time for the graduation song. McCormack and Pierson made their way through several verses, choruses and a bridge, before settling in on the home stretch — the final chorus.
“Take every chance you dare,” they harmonized. “I’ll still be there / When you come back down.”
In the brief instrumental break before the final line, McCormack and Pierson turned to each other. They shared a smile.
“When you come back down,” they sang.
Jon Wolper can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3248.
Class of 2013
Here are Rivendell Academy’s 2013 graduates and their plans, as provided by the school: Alexander Ray Bates, undecided; William F. Bliss, work; Richard Blodgett III, New England School of Communications; Cassandra R. Calhoun, Institute of Skin Science; Jason T. Daley, Lincoln Tech Institute; Tyler J. Davidson, Castleton State; Dakota P. Day, White Mountains Community College; Stefanie A. DeSimone, Plymouth State University; Ryan L. Farnham, University of Northwestern Ohio; Shawn G. Farnham, Southern New Hampshire University; Logan H. Gardyne, Southern New Hampshire University; Cassandra K. Gray, Southern New Hampshire University; Jack D. Guadagni, Champlain College; Tanner L. Hibbard, University of Northwestern Ohio; Cassidy L. Hodge, Cosmetology School-Lebanon; Scott M. Johnson, Community College of Southern Maine; Christian Knowlton Jr., 2-year mission then Brigham Young; Sarah E. Landgraf, Skidmore College; Anthony J. Lupacchino, work/college; Adele M. Lyndes, University of New Hampshire; Kaitlin M. Maddock, Assumption College; Margaret McCormack, University of Vermont; Christina R. Moreland, Bowdoin College; Ariana K. Murphy, American University; Ryan H. O’Leary, Bunker Hill Community College; Molly K. Pierson, Saint Anselm College; Dylan J. Pushee, Southern New Hampshire University; Justin D. Rasnic, Castleton State; Shannon K. Robbins, Southern New Hampshire University; Ashley L. Schwarz, work; Marie A. Sobeck, Drew University; Emily A. Spaulding, Plymouth State University; Jack E. Steketee, Skidmore College; Lacey A. Stever, Norwich University; Bruce F. Taylor III, undecided; Dalton T. Thayer, Cornell School of Animal Husbandry; Candie L. Thresher, undecided; Micheal J. Thurston, Vermont Technical College; Brandon F. Whitehill, undecided; Tala M. Wilson, Franklin Pierce University; Amber M. Wolf, College of the Atlantic; Brianna G. Wood, Southern New Hampshire University; Jennifer L. Woodward, Rivier University; Stacie L. Wright, University of Vermont.