Hartford High sends off resilient Class of ’24

Under cloudy skies, Hartford High’s graduating class files onto the football field for their commencement in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. A downpour came through before the ceremony began. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Under cloudy skies, Hartford High’s graduating class files onto the football field for their commencement in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. A downpour came through before the ceremony began. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Hartford High senior Andrew Keenan, gets help putting on his mortarboard from classmates Olivia Brackett and Madison WIlley before their ceremony in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. The school’s 122 graduates received their diplomas outdoors on the football field. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford High senior Andrew Keenan, gets help putting on his mortarboard from classmates Olivia Brackett and Madison WIlley before their ceremony in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. The school’s 122 graduates received their diplomas outdoors on the football field. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

As principal Nelson Fogg provides shelter from a passing shower, Hartford High valedictorian Jordan Davis speaks to his classmates about what inspires him during their commencement in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

As principal Nelson Fogg provides shelter from a passing shower, Hartford High valedictorian Jordan Davis speaks to his classmates about what inspires him during their commencement in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Hartford High seniors Maggie Lane, left, and Leiyah Fisher take a look at the selfie they did together before the start of their ceremony in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. The class’s first two years of high school were spent dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford High seniors Maggie Lane, left, and Leiyah Fisher take a look at the selfie they did together before the start of their ceremony in White River Junction, Vt., on June 14, 2024. The class’s first two years of high school were spent dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-15-2024 9:01 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — For a few minutes during Friday night’s Hartford High graduation ceremony, the skies opened up over the school’s athletic field and a steady rain fell. Some guests opened umbrellas or pulled out ponchos. But members of the school’s Class of ’24 appeared unfazed by the interruption.

As Superintendent Tom DeBalsi observed in his opening remarks, this group of seniors “have been through a lot.”

Hartford’s graduating class began high school four years ago amid the COVID pandemic. They spent their freshman year in hybrid learning, with their cohort was divided into groups and attending in-person classes on alternating days. Mask policies remained in place during their sophomore year.

“(But) you preserved,” DeBalsi told the 122 seniors. “In fact, you thrived. You are ready to go on, ready to go off on your own … to a life that you will build.”

Students who spoke at the ceremony reflected on the journey ahead and shared their outlook with their fellow seniors.

Class Salutatorian Gabriella Gardner urged her classmates to spend more time appreciating the moment, instead of always looking ahead.

“It is crucial to be present in our lives, because it goes by so fast,” Gardner said. “It is too often that we say that we cannot wait. We can’t wait to be in high school ... can’t wait to graduate, can’t wait to get into college. ...While it is crucial to have dreams and goals, what makes all these things important is the journey ahead.”

Valedictorian Jordan Davis, talked about his personal idol, the late Robin Williams, and how Davis found inspiration from Williams’ willingness to embrace “like sparks of madness” in himself.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Microbrewery proposes tasting room for downtown Enfield
New Hampshire expects next year's food waste ban to increase diversion to facility market
Lebanon halts paving of Miracle Mile due to asphalt mistake
Hanover Selectboard gives $130,000 severance package to departing town manager
Kenyon: How much do Upper Valley landlords have to raise rents to stay in business?
Over Easy: A May-Very-Late-December romance

Davis defined that “madness” as the willingness to take risks and brave unfamiliar terrain — and not to betray your passions because they go against societal conventions.

“Don’t run away from the madness,” Davis said. “Embrace it as a possibility to learn. … Madness and inspiration are separated by a very thin line — and while both in extremes can be unhealthy, a little bit of either is OK.”

Class President Zachary Johnson reflected on the challenge of the pandemic and how his cohort persevered by working together as a community.

“Every person sitting in front of me can think of a small success, or even a large success, that they have achieved during the last four years,” Johnson said. “Babe Ruth said that it’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. I think this quote emulates exactly what this class has gone through and done.”

After his speech, Johnson handed a ceremonial key, representing the key to the school, to the 2025 Class President Harper Fallon.

The ceremony included two performances from the Hartford High School Chamber Choir, who sang an a cappella rendition of the National Anthem and, later in the ceremony, the song, “Walk With Me” by Coleman Peterson.

The Hartford High School Band performed “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar, to open the ceremony.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

Hartford High School Class of 2024

Kai Ahern; Ava Albrecht; Samia Arnold; Edward Ashline; Sarah Beagle; Savannah Beagle; Marissa Beland; Caroline Beraldi; Payton Bessette; Asher Bettwieser; Annabelle Brabant; Olivia Brackett; Camdon Bradford; Kailie Bradley; Lev Breese; Kamryn Brower; Gavin Brown; Fiona Buskey; Mason Chase; Cody Church; Harley Clark; Kaya Clark; Nathan Clark; Sadie Clough; Matthew Cooney; Kaelyn Courtemanche; Ava D’Amico; El Dailey; Jordan Davis; Ryan DeFabiis; Jesse Dunham; Sean Dunton; Logan Evans; Leiyah Fisher; Jack Fournier-Stephens; Connor Fox; Matthew Franklin; Saxon Galenski; Gabriella Gardner; Gail Gardner; Garrison Gardner; Galadriel Goodwin; Violet Goodwin; Gabriel Guillette; Antonio Harper; Christian Hathorn; Matthew Hayes; Caelum Henninger; Zoey Hossler; Ryan Howe; Jamie Hyde; Zachary Johnson; Rebecca Keelty; Andrew Keenan; Dallas Kelly; Aiden Kingsbury; Joseph Knapp; Dakin Kovatch; Nathaniel Krom; John Kustafik; Grayson Lamoureux; Margaret Lane; Alaina Laplante; Riley Leva; Emily Lewis; Justin Luce; Evan Lynds; Darian-River Maddox; Hermione Malia; Dylan McCrory; Michael Meredith-Tuck; Destyni Miller; Ezra Mock; Sonya Mohn; Jack Moody; Maple Moore; Madeline Moore; Abigail Newcity; Maximus Newsome; Alexander Nichols; Maple Offensend; Tegan Padova; Lochlan Park; Lillian Parker; Owen Parker; Stephen Peyton; Joseph Pierson; Jaden Poirier; Kaitlynn Porter-Rist; Maxwell Portnoy; Neicsi Rau; Benjamin Ray; Rylea Rediker Waterman; Kennedi Rhodes; Connor Rice; Taylor Richardson; Harper Robinson; Kayla Robinson; Kira Robinson; Miranda Rogers; Adah Rose; Nevaeh Rose; Joshua Severance; Benjamin Shepard; Evan Simpson; Deshon Sinclair; Jordan Slusser; Alexander Smith; Jaleal Smith; Bryce Soboleski; Ryan Spaulding; Thurston Swarthout; Anthony Sykes; Lili Thibault; Brayden Trombly; Tanner Trussell; Brody Tyburski; Therese Underhill; Lillian Wheeler; Maria Wheeler; Madison Willey; and Cole Withington.