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Thetford Students Run Show

Graduates Combine Somber Reflection With Humor

  • Haley Grigel, Eliza Hoffman, Elizabeth Marks, and Erin Robinson share a laugh after singing You’re Gonna Miss Me at the Thetford Academy graduation last evening. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

    Haley Grigel, Eliza Hoffman, Elizabeth Marks, and Erin Robinson share a laugh after singing You’re Gonna Miss Me at the Thetford Academy graduation last evening. (Ben DeFlorio photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Graduating senior Maddison Wilhite embraces her mother, Karla, during a flower presentation at Thetford Academy commencement. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

    Graduating senior Maddison Wilhite embraces her mother, Karla, during a flower presentation at Thetford Academy commencement. (Ben DeFlorio photograph) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Haley Grigel, Eliza Hoffman, Elizabeth Marks, and Erin Robinson share a laugh after singing You’re Gonna Miss Me at the Thetford Academy graduation last evening. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)
  • Graduating senior Maddison Wilhite embraces her mother, Karla, during a flower presentation at Thetford Academy commencement. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

Thetford — A bell gonged at 6:30 sharp, and Wagner’s March from Tannhäuser filled the green in front of Thetford Academy as the 59 members of the class of 2013 filed out of the school two at a time and took their seats at the front of the stage.

The girls dressed in white caps and gowns; the boys dressed in blue. About 300 family members and friends rose from their chairs to snap pictures and smile proudly. Young children scrambled for a better view, searching diligently for their older siblings. Parents whispered among themselves: “How did they grow up so fast?”

When the music ended, a child cried “Yay!”

Graduate Ian Weider stepped up to the microphone first and reminded the audience that graduation had a somber undertone, too.

“Our future is not just something that happens to us,” Weider said. “Rather, it is up to each and every one of us to create.”

Weider said “the greatest way to predict the future is to invent it,” but to do so, “we need to get out there and participate.”

He told the crowd that his words were inspired by “my late, great friend Connor Kennedy Cook, who we will never forget.”

Cook, who would have been a junior, was struck by lightning last summer while working on a nearby farm and died from his injuries.

But in the process he became a beacon for the class of 2013, a symbol that perseverance trumps hardship.

“This whole year was in his memory,” William Bugg, who just wrapped up his first year as head of the school, said. “This senior class has known tragedy. They used each other to get through it.”

Bugg explained that “our graduations don’t have an official adult speaker. Instead, it’s the students who bring you their hopes, speeches and songs.”

Students Rowan Froehlich, Kayla Beth Glazer and Rosalind Isquith spoke as a trio, alternating lines and referencing throughout the popular book series Harry Potter.

“As Dumbledore led Harry through ‘the darkest times,’ these people have inspired us to keep going and brought levity into periods of great change,” Glazer said of her classmates.

“Today,” Froehlich continued, picking during the break of silence, “we would like to present these blue-and-white flowers to those friends, parents, grandparents, siblings and teachers who have stood up to us when we needed a reality check, helped us when we needed guidance, stuck with us through the hardest times and loved us throughout this worthwhile and challenging experience.”

Ana Campomizzi, equipped with two roses, found her family near the back.

“This one’s for you,” she said, handing a white rose to her mother Tina.

Then she gave a blue rose to her brother Malachi, mussing his hair.

The earlier serious tone gave way to a lighter note.

In addition to high school diplomas, the graduates last night left with an autographed, 8-inch-by-10-inch “selfie” of one of their peers, Thaddeus Martin Buttrey.

After the obligatory dispensing of advice to Thetford’s juniors in a freewheeling, five-minute-plus speech, Buttrey instructed his own classmates to look under their seats to claim “their gift.”

“You have all given me a little metaphorical piece of yourselves,” said Buttrey, from the microphone as he watched his fellow graduates pull out from under their chairs large manila folders. “In return, I give you all a physical piece of myself to remember me by, whatever the impression I left on you may be.”

Buttrey waited patiently as his classmates ripped into the folders, tearing the tape away to reveal a picture of himself winking against a red backlight, with the word “Smoochez” scribbled underneath a fat, sloppy autograph.

He gripped the podium and proudly announced: “Each and every one of you now has an autographed picture of me.”

The crowd erupted with laughter at the 18-year-old’s stunt. Buttrey could barely speak; he was laughing too.

“Giving you these,” he continued, “is my way of saying thank you for the past 13 years I have spent as a member of this intelligent, interesting, talented and attractive crowd of people who are now ready to grow up and seize whatever it is the great unknown of the future holds for them.”

As nighttime filled the quad, Buttrey got the last word and closed his speech by quoting the stand-up comedian Dennis Miller: “I AM OUTTA HERE!”

Later, Buttrey said the hijinks was a joint effort between him and his father, who planted the packages underneath the chairs a few hours before graduation to “draw suspicion away from his son.”

“This took two solid evenings of no-homework to prepare,” Buttrey said, and although a few teachers were privy to the plan, his fellow classmates were left in the dark.

“It’s so funny,” Bridget Yirka-Sanchez, a classmate who plans to study psychology in the fall at Castleton State College, said of the stunt afterward. “It’s awesome. It’s in character too.”

Yirka-Sanchez said Buttrey used to read his presentations in class in different voices, drawing laughter from the entire room.

Bugg, the head of the school, said Buttrey’s antics showed how each student embodies their own personality.

“They’re such unique personalities, streaks all over the map,” Bugg said. “They’re great athletes, poets, actors, musical-theater proponents, comedians, such as the one you saw. Just a good slice of life.”

Zack Peterson can be reached at 603-727-3211 or zpeterson@vnews.com

Class of 2013

Isaac Matthew Barker, Vermont Technical College; Megan Emily Barton, Smith College; Tyler Clark Briggs, Lyndon State College; Thaddeus Martin Buttrey, Kalamazoo College; Anastasia Sophia Campomizzi, Lee University; Andrew Lachlan Cawley, Bowdoin College; Dominic Mearig Chatot, University of Vermont; Stormie Raven Elizabeth Claffey, Keene State College; Aidan Freemont Cleaves, University of New Hampshire; Ashley Marie Cyr, New England Culinary Institute; Matthew Gerald DeMara, Johnson and Wales University; Michaela Kathleen Doyle, New England College; Cole Daniel Eastman, White Mountain Community College; Robert Michael Fernandez, Drexel University; Amanda Rae Follensbee, Lyndon State College; Rowan Elizabeth Froehlich, Northeastern University; Hannah Ruth Gelb, University of Vermont; Kayla Beth Glazer, Kenyon College; Haley Baker Grigel, University of Vermont; Dylan Carleton Gundlach, Rochester Institute of Technology; Katherine Ann Hill, Work; Kaitlin Nicole Hodge, Castleton State College; Eliza Wright Hoffman, Dartmouth College; Rosalind Cardin Isquith, University of Vermont; Jacqueline Elizabeth Jamieson, Castleton State College; Sanders Scott Jurgelewicz, University of Vermont; Trevor Robert LaBree, Work; Lily Anna Leveret, University of Vermont; Henry Davis Levine, Colby College; Yuzhou (Oscar) Lin, Boston University; Raúl Miguel López Linehan, University of Vermont; Yu Ma, University of Connecticut; Arianna MacKinnon, Northeastern University; Annajéle Helena López Magoon, French Culinary Institute of America; Elizabeth Olmsted Marks, Wellesley College; Ryan Alan Marsh, Lyndon State College; Owen Alexander Marshall, University of Vermont; Max Richard McCabe, University of Maine; Paul Lewis Moses, Castleton State College; Riley Louis Nagle, University of Montana; Kit Yates Norton, Emerson College; Seth Daniel Norton, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Kaitlin Elizabeth Olsen, Plymouth State University; Michael Alan Paton, Work; Micah Errol Porter; Jenna Doreen Post, Johnson State College; Finlay Anthony Presland-Byrne, Navy; Elizabeth Marie Robinson, Work; Erin Margaret Ann Robinson, University of New Hampshire; Bridget Kathryn Sanchez-Yirka, Castleton State College; Chad Michael Ward, Ohio Technical College Auto/Diesel Program; Joanna May Washburn, Burlington College; Madelyn Louise Webb, Clark University - Defer (GAP); Ian Dudley Weider, University of Vermont; Maddison Alexis Wilhite, South Dakota State University; Emma Elizabeth Yurkosky, Saint Michael’s College; Michael Anthony Zack, Jr., University of Vermont; Zhen Zhang, University of San Francisco; Bonnie Marie Zion, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (GAP).

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