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‘One Life and It’s Up to Us’: Lebanon High Graduates Urged on Importance of ‘Grit’

  • In the cafeteria Cameron Stewart hands Lebanon High School class vice president Alec Greeley an umbrella before the start of the school's graduation on June 12, 2014 in Lebanon, N.H. On the left is class president Ben Whitaker. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    In the cafeteria Cameron Stewart hands Lebanon High School class vice president Alec Greeley an umbrella before the start of the school's graduation on June 12, 2014 in Lebanon, N.H. On the left is class president Ben Whitaker.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jaidin Wilson hugs her sister Ravin Thibodeau as the rain falls on the start of Lebanon High School graduation ceremony on June 12, 2014, in Lebanon N.H.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Jaidin Wilson hugs her sister Ravin Thibodeau as the rain falls on the start of Lebanon High School graduation ceremony on June 12, 2014, in Lebanon N.H.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • In the cafeteria Cameron Stewart hands Lebanon High School class vice president Alec Greeley an umbrella before the start of the school's graduation on June 12, 2014 in Lebanon, N.H. On the left is class president Ben Whitaker. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Jaidin Wilson hugs her sister Ravin Thibodeau as the rain falls on the start of Lebanon High School graduation ceremony on June 12, 2014, in Lebanon N.H.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

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Lebanon — The city’s high school seniors were urged to aspire to bright futures during a graduation held under gray skies on the school’s football field on Thursday evening.

Salutatorian Emma Poplack and Valedictorian Nell Houde used their shared speech to encourage their classmates to aim higher than the class’ song would suggest, “The Best Day of My Life.”

Poplack said graduates should think of this milestone as a “stepping stone,” a “checkpoint” and a “celebration,” and look ahead to many more.

Houde urged her fellow grads to consider “YOLO” — you only live once — as a “war cry for our generation.

“We have one life and it’s up to us,” she said. “Go after what you want.”

Social studies teacher Lukas Michener — a Seattle native — began his commencement address by taking credit for the weather.

“You’re welcome,” he said.

As he does in his discussion-based classes, Michener used the students’ own words to reflect on the concept of hard work. He said he asked the students to respond to a prompt a couple of weeks earlier, describing what hard work means to them and providing an example of an instance when they worked hard to achieve a goal.

Michener shared graduating senior Ellen Gibbs’ story of a struggle to retrieve a 10-pound block from the water as part of a lifeguard exam. In order to gain her parents’ approval and a summer job, Gibbs needed to “save a brick from drowning,” Michener said.

Though she dropped it once, on the second try she was able to bring the brick to safety, he said.

He reflected on Lebanon teaching colleague Vanessa DeSimone’s battle against breast cancer, saying “sometimes you can’t choose your battles, but you fight them anyway.”

Michener pointed to University of Pennsylvania psychology associate professor Angela Duckworth’s work on the characteristic of grit, which he described as a combination of passion, perseverance and stamina.

He reminded the graduates that life is “a marathon, not a sprint.”

He wrapped up his words of wisdom with a quotation from his dad, Mike, “nothing that’s worth a damn in life comes easy.”

Demonstrating their grit, the graduates withstood rain — gradually increasing in intensity — in order to collect their diplomas from School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey and outgoing superintendent Gail Paludi , as outgoing principal Nan Parsons read their names.

Friends and family members huddled under umbrellas as they cheered and took pictures.

Parsons, who will leave her post at the end of the month, concluded the ceremony with a brief statement describing the event as the “most memorable graduation in history.”

As the crowd dispersed and those in attendance fled to their cars, graduate Trevor Field said he was “glad to graduate” and “happy to be out of school.”

Field said his next step might take him to Yankee Barn Homes in Grantham where he would help to construct post and beam houses.

Dodging rain drops as she waited for her parents, graduate Georgia Michalovic said the ceremony was “very memorable.”

“It’s a good way to go out,” she said. “With a bang.”

CLASS OF 2014

Gergana Lyubomirova Alteva, Barnard College; Kelsie Suzanne Atwater, Colgate University; Thomas Ray Barbour; Elizabeth Ann Barney, River Valley Community College; Jasmyn Marie Barton, Keiser University; Nicole Jae Barton, Plymouth State University; Michael Charles Bean; Rachel Elizabeth Berg, University of New Hampshire; Theodore James Bessette, New England College; Jonathan Cory Bingel, Work; Michaela Pearl Bish, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Kyle Michael Blair; Cierra Raye Bloom, UNH; Otto Augustus Bonk, Ithaca College; Claudia Rose Boutin, University of Vermont; David Ryan Brooks; Natalie Rose Cantlin, gap year; Justin Isaiah Cate, UNH; Matthew Kevin Charbono; John Curtis Cioffredi, UVM; Shelbie Mae Clukey, Work; Scott Brandon Colburn, Champlain College; Emily Autumn Colonese, Work; Joshua James Creeger, Maine College of Art; Sabrina Marie Creighton; Lauren Elms Cressey, Wheaton College; Dina Vidisha D’Cruze, Fordham University; Devin Michelle Dail, Keene State College; Nicholas Peter Davini, UNH; Taylor Maree Davis, UNH; John Austin Demers, River Valley Community College; Dylan Downing DeRego, Motorcycle Mechanic Institute; Amber L. Derouin; Daniella Carlisle Doolen, Franklin Pierce University; Taylor Renee Downs, Southern New Hampshire University; Garrett T. Dykstra, Keene State College; Brooke Ashlee Farwell, Elmira College; Trevor Russell Field, Work; Alison Grace Fielder, River Valley Community College; Louise Mae Filiault, Southern New Hampshire University; Kyle Douglas Findley, Work; Madison Taylor Gallien; Dylan Scott Gaudette, Clemson University; Tyler Joseph Geno; Lucas Joseph Gerow, Emerson College; Ellen Marie Gibbs; Ian Robert Girdwood, St. Lawrence University; Jennifer Lynn Gleim, Clark University; Noah James Goode; Natasha Lynne Goodwin, UVM; Martin John Gradijan IV, Franklin Pierce University; Alec Charles Greeley; Emma Courtney Greenough, St. Lawrence University; Joshua V.K.E. Grendler, Work; Katelyn Elizabeth Grizzaffi, New England Culinary Institute; Joseph Stratton Grout, Bridgton Academy; Charlotte Anne Grzegorowicz, Green Mountain College; Ethan David Guyer, UNH; Katrina M. Haidari, University of Pittsburgh; Timothy Jacobus Hansen, Middlebury College; Nicholas Hanslin de Sherbinin, Webb Institute; Grayson Houde Hardy, Boston College; Dylan Micheal Harris-Finney; Travis Kenneth Hastings, Air Force; Morgan Melissa Heavisides, Work; Kara Lyn Hemenway, Lasell College; Alexandra H. Hess, Keene State College; Rebecca Deborah Holdowsky, UMass-Amherst; Nell Rybeck Houde, Bates College; Corey Robert Huckins, Air Force; Anna Ling Hurst, Goucher College; Garrett Brett Inman, Rider University; Abby Lee Jackson, UNH; John Eugene Jasinski, Lehigh University; Artemis G. Kayiales; Matthew Louis Kersey, Dartmouth College; Nabeel Khan, McGill University; Heather Ann King, Springfield College; Zachary Ayerlund Kinsman, Maine Maritime Academy; Paul Kleinschmidt; Amanda Kaylyn Klotz, Champlain College; Ingrid Grace Kottke, University of Pittsburgh; Henry David Kovacs, Work; Matthew John LaBombard, Lakes Region Community College; Rayne Alexandra Lambert, Catawba College; Jennifer Ager Laramie, Salve Regina University; Joseph Edward Lauziere, Work; Scott Richard Leggett, UNH; Brianna Wai Yee Li; Zachary Karl Liebold, George Washington University; Elton John Little, River Valley Community College; Lissa Will Loos Mayer, River Valley Community College; Christopher John Lovejoy, Hamilton College; Ashley M. Lowell, River Valley Community College; Isabella Thomas Hackl Lurie; Samantha Marie MacDonald, University of New England; Aquiles Jose Marcano; Lauren Alexis Martin, Navy; Michael Aaron Martin; Megan Ann Mason, Nichols College; Daniel Robert Maurer, UMass-Amherst; Aubrie Ruth Mazurek, University of New England; Kassandra Patience McCurley, University of St. Thomas; Jared Douglas McGranaghan; Shauna Twitchell McGrath; Aurora Mariko McLellan, Ithaca College; Jacob Obediah Mellish; Georgia Forbes Michalovic, Wheaton College; Elana Ann Midura, River Valley Community College; Dallas James Milliken; Elizabeth Rose Miramonti, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Autumn Marie Moore; Gavin Rhys Morgan, Plymouth State University; Nathaniel Russell Morgan, Bryant University; Dominick Michael Morrill, UNH; Rose Adeline Munsey-Kano, Ithaca College; Cassandra Megan Nevel, American University; Brendan James O’Donnell, Rochester Institute of Technology; Ronan Howard O’Donnell; Matthew Brayden Owens, University of Kansas; Jaclyn Noelle Pageau, Dartmouth College; Emily Kay Palermo, Maine College of Art; Kyle Michael Paterson, Southeastern Lineman Technical Center; Austin Addison Pelletier; Hayley Elizabeth Perron, Colby-Sawyer College; Elizabeth Veronica Peterson, UVM; Tamara Dawn Plomp, UVM; Rachel Elise Pollard, Tufts University; Kevin Richard Pomer, Ithaca College; Emma Lacy Poplack, Stanford University; Destiny Ann Powell, UNH; Jeffrey Newton Purdy, Norwich University; Austin Daniel Putnam, Work; Mariah Lee Ramos, Lyndon State College; Christian Rifas, Work; Jacob Daniel Rios, Navy; Kaylee Nicole Rogers, UNH; Micaela Marie Schones, UNH; Gilman Lloyd Seymour; Kevin Michael Shaffner; Nicholas Ronald Shepherd; Tanner Reeves Singleton, Keene State College; Kalin Roy Sou, University of Connecticut; Ryleigh Shea Stearns, Plymouth State University; Matthew Robert Stebbins, UNH; C. Andrea Stevens; Cameron James Stewart, Work; Matthew Thomas Taylor, Lyndon State College; Samuel John Taylor; Craig Gary Junior Telfer, Franklin Pierce University; Bryan Lee Terrill II, Marine Corps; Monica Rae Theriault, University of Southern Maine; Ravin Tristene Thibodeau; Cody Jacob Thornton, Work; Ethan Eric Ticehurst, Providence College; Conner Andrew Tilton, Paul Smith’s College; Yen Duong Truong, Dartmouth College; Rachel Cardoso Vaz; Samuel Jordan Vinton, Germanna Community College; Christian Mario Volckaert; Kenneth David Weitzman, Tufts University; Gary D. Wells-Bogue, Air Force; Dylan Richard Wheeler, Becker College; Sarah Mae Whipple, Work; Benjamin Ashburn Whitaker, Work; Brooke Frances Whitaker, Hendrix College; Brenna Leigh White, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Garrett Timothy White, New England Technical College; Kathryn Grace Willeman, Gordon College; Matthew Cromwell Woodcock, UNH; Lyssa Aerin Wright, Ashland University; Gage Michael Young, Kimball Union Academy; Yazmin De Jesus Zamora, Southern New Hampshire University.

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