The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

Hartford High School Class of 2021 ‘tried to keep as normal as possible’

  • From left, Katie Trombley, of Hartford, Vt.; Eleanor Hinckley, of Hartland, Vt.; and Clementine Philip, of White River Junction, Vt., decorate their car before a car parade for the Hartford High School Class of 2021 in White River Junction, Vt., on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • Eddie Jeon, of Wilder, Vt., waves an American flag as he leans out the window during a car parade for the Hartford High School Class of 2021 in White River Junction, Vt., on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2021 1:10:16 AM
Modified: 6/12/2021 1:10:23 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The gray skies that hung over the Hartford High School graduation Friday did little to stifle the high spirits of the students gathered in the football field.

For the intrepid senior class, the last year has been marked with challenges; and they’ve pushed through every one.

“This year we were given the task to keep our community safe,” class valedictorian Beatrice Wendling said in a graduation speech Friday night, adding that she and her classmates had to give up many aspects of a regular senior year in high school to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Teenagers, she said, are often portrayed as self-centered and addicted to their phones. But “this year we defied every one of those stereotypes.”

The 118 seniors graduating from Hartford High Schoolon Friday night were spread out in seats across the grass, which was spray-painted red and blue in the Hartford Hurricanes logo. From behind their masks, students smiled, cheered and laughed as the difficult year finally came to an end.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, students in this year’s graduating class were forced to skip a number of pivotal events for seniors. They couldn’t attend their junior prom; they had to stop holding beloved events like pep rallies; and many of them had to attend class from home every other day.

“Lost behind a mask were your smiles, expressions, goofy faces,” Hartford Superintendent Tom DeBalsi told the graduating class. “You have sacrificed.”

But, DeBalsi told the class, they have also found purpose amid the sacrifices.

“The things you went through in this pandemic, these things made you stronger ... more compassionate, more understanding of each other,” DeBalsi said.

Student Council President Carter Nalette, who reflected on the last year in an interview this week, called it a “big challenge” but one that the group of seniors worked hard to overcome.

“We tried to keep as normal as possible,” said Nalette, adding that his graduating class held events such as Spirit Week and they attended sporting events for a chance to spend some time with each other.

“Despite everything going on, we sort of stuck together,” Nalette said. “This time has taught everybody a lot of things about themselves. ... It’s made us stronger in our own way.”

Now, at the end of a difficult year, the relief on the faces of students at Friday’s graduation was visible.

“This year we have gained an understanding of ourselves,” Wendling said. “This year Hartford has truly shown its tenacity and ability in spite of overwhelming odds.”

Anna Merriman can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

The Hartford High School Class of 2021 and their future plans, where available:

Colston Allen; Jackson Balch, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Morgan Barwood, Bentley University; Shea Bean; Hope Bebeau; Cassidy Beisler, Vermont Technical College; Grace Belmont, Community College of Vermont; Evan Berman; Brandon Bernaby, University of Northwest Ohio; Tanner Bessette, St. Lawrence University; Kaylyn Bills, University of Vermont; Kieley Boardman, Northern Vermont University; Bentley Boonyaharn; James Boulanger; Hannah Braley; Aidan Brooks, Merrimack University; Colby Brooks, Norwich University; Ryan Burnham; Alex Bushway; Daniel Bushway; Bailey Cameron, West Texas A&M University; Zachary Carter, SUNY-Fredonia; Jasper Cate, Southern New Hampshire University; Nicholas Clay, University of Rhode Island; John Cook; Paul Cormier; Thomas Cote; Jessica Davis, employment; Ezekiel Decere; Devin Denk, Lake Regions Community College; Chloe DeRemer; Lorenzo Dobrich; Samantha Dunbar, Vermont Technical College; Jacob Dwinell, Norwich University; Jordan Goff; Emily Gokey; Deondra Goodspeed, Rivier University; Alexandra Gray; Logan Haley; Angel Harding; DeAngelo Harding; Joseph Hilliker-Earl; Eleanor Hinckley, Roanoke College; John Hinckley, Merrimack University; Axel Huepler, American Academy of Dramatic Arts; Samantha Jackson; Cole Jasmin, George Mason University; Jasmine Jenkins, St. Lawrence University; Phoebe Jensen, UVM; Eddie Jeon, gap year; Jordan Johnson; Gretchen Josselyn, University of Connecticut; Parker Kehoe, Norwich University; Daniel Kelliher, George Washington University; Hailey Kendall; Lillian Kendall; Alexander Klauer; Taylor Kulick; Jalen Labonte; Remy Lambert; Talon Luce; John MacElman; Kaylee Mangan; Alex Marshall, employment; Jessica Marshall, Plymouth State University; Nicholas Martin; Calvin McCrory; Robert McGrath; Mersaydes Meeker; Mayah Merrihew; Isabelle Miller; Shane Miller, Merrimack University; Regan Mock; Andrew Moffitt; Dakota Morse; Dylan Morse, George Mason University; Jaida Mucheke; Dakoda Murphy; Davan Murphy; Nevaeh Murphy, Flagler College; Carter Nalette, Bentley University; Ian O’Brien, Paul Smith’s College; Gary Olsen; James Parmenter, Southern New Hampshire University; Jewel Parmenter; Jordan Parmenter, Northern Vermont University; Nina Patriquin, Bennington College; Thomas Payton; Kobe Peach; Skyler Perkins; Cheyanne Pero, Maine College of Art; Zoe Pfeiffer, UVM; Clementine Philip, Oberlin College; Nathaniel Pike; Ryelee Potwin; Faith Pungot, Vermont Technical College; Jacob Ray; Logan Rediker; Sullivan Rikert, Washington County Community College; Benjamin Rushton, Trinity College; Meadow Sanville; Ethan Schaal, Norwich University; Zachary Schneider; Brooke Shambo, employment; Trevor Simmons, Mansfield University; Bikramjit Singh, Rochester Institute of Technology; Reilly Slusser; Jackson Smith, Lewis University; Zayne Smith, UVM; Jared Stammers; Kayla Stocker, Colby-Sawyer College; Finnian Sunde, Babson College; Taylor Sykes, New England School of Hair Design; Slater Terino; Alecia Thompson, Norwich University; James Thompson; Noah Tibbits, gap year; Joseph Triplett; Nathan Triplett; Katherine Trombley, University of York; Cameron Tucker; Beatrice Wendling, Smith College; Landon Wescott; Abraham Wheeler; Kayli Whitcomb, Castleton University; Justin Woodward; Daniel Worth; Myah Young

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy