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Lebanon grads told to shirk ‘normal’ and forget worrying about the unknown

  • The Lebanon High School Class of 2019 walks into the graduation ceremony in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ireland Fielder listens to master of ceremonies Jack Smyrski deliver the welcome address at Lebanon High School's graduation in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Emebet Stott lifts her diploma after walking at Lebanon High School's graduation in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Families and friends watch the graduation ceremony for Lebanon High School's senior class in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/6/2019 9:52:37 PM
Modified: 6/7/2019 11:47:49 AM

LEBANON — While many thank yous were directed on Thursday night to the family, teachers and parents of graduating students, members of the Lebanon High School Class of 2019 said it was friends and classmates that made the past four years a special time.

Many of the fond memories that valedictorian Kira Felch remembers were made better by the “laughs and smiles” of friends who contributed to her achievements.

“We finally made it,” Felch told about 140 members of her graduating class and a large crowd gathered on the Lebanon High School football field. “I’m not sure about the rest of you guys, but I’m not sure I would make it to graduation.”

Many people might assume that her honored position in the class would mean Felch has life figured out.

“The truth is I’m a mess and a half,” she said.

Luck, Felch said, has played a big role in her successful graduation, as has the help of parents and teachers. But without classmates and friends to rely on, it wouldn’t have been possible.

“The fact that I’m standing here right now shows anything is possible,” she said.

Meanwhile, Salutatorian Jack Sandmann discouraged his fellow graduates from becoming too “normal.”

Sandmann went on to declare that he is an avid National Public Radio listener, enjoys painting but is bad at it and sings in the car, often while passing other motorists.

“Normal is complacent, and as a class, we are anything but complacent,” he said.

Principal Ian Smith credited the graduating seniors for creating many of the “good vibes” in the high school.

“Students, many of them seniors, reached out to students in an inclusive way” to create a welcoming atmosphere, he said. “And that’s an awesome thing.”

While schools are not perfect places, Lebanon High School is a good school that the seniors contributed to, Smith said.

With many graduates heading off to higher education, the military or jobs that might take them far from home, social studies and English teacher Sara Bennett offered some advice to adjust to new surroundings.

Bennett, a Wisconsin native, moved to the Upper Valley 11 years ago with her husband, Josh, a native of the region. The two live in Sunapee with their three children.

The move took Bennett away from her entire extended family, and it was about 10 years before she felt fully settled, she said.

“Don’t worry about it if you aren’t sure what to do for a career, where to live, what to do when you grow up,” Bennett urged the graduates. “Do worry if you aren’t trying to figure it out.”

Bennett went on to discourage trying too hard to fit in and warned against becoming judgmental.

“Do work to the best of your ability every day and don’t get down on yourself if that looks different,” she said.

There are days when Bennett’s students are engaged in class, and she comes home to share a great meal with family. Others, students can be bored and the best dinner she can suggest is fish sticks.

“Don’t wallow in failure,” she said. “OK, you can for one to two pints of ice cream and a single season of a Netflix original.”

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

Lebanon High School Class of 2018

Valkyrie Alden, Ithaca College; Alexandra Amature, University of Tampa; Jared Audette, Nichols College; Sarah Austin; Trina Avelino, River Valley Community College; Chelsea Baker; Shane Balise; Sarah Ball, Grove City College; Zachary Barden, Vermont Technical College; Nicholas Beliveau, Southern Maine Community College; Devin Benson, Louisiana State University; Katherine Berthasavage, University of New Hampshire; Hunter Bienvenu, U.S. Marine Corps; Jordan Boynton; Siddhi Bramhe, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Hope Brown, Castleton University; Hannah Budner, Hamilton College; Jeffrey Burgos, U.S. Marine Corps; Samuel Caffrey; Lindsi Carrier; Zoe Cate; Baylee Chase, River Valley Community College; Elizabeth Cheevers; Clara Cole, Bryant University; Nathaniel Cole, Southern New Hampshire University; Hunter Dadmun; Aaron Damren; Paul Daugherty, Champlain College; Travis Dauphinais, Southern New Hampshire University; Gareth Davis; Jordan Davis-Flint, Lakes Region Community College; Yan De Araujo; Michael Downs; Marley Dube; Teresa Dubuque; Joseph Dupree, University of New Hampshire; Dylan Dupuis; Cody Earnest; Hannah Falcone, University of New Hampshire; Kira Felch, Baylor University; Chloe Ferguson, Johnson & Wales University; Makayla Ferreira, Castleton University; Ireland Fielder, River Valley Community College; Olivia Fielder, River Valley Community College; Grace Gaskin; Jessica Giaccone, Saint Thomas University; Nathan Gile, Brigham Young University; Grace Godfrey, University of New Hampshire; Mackenzie Greger, U.S. Marine Corps; Skye Gulledge, Carleton College; Andrew Han, Saint Lawrence University; Emma Hansen, Assumption College; Alex Harrington, University of New England; Ryan Hart, Plymouth State University; Jacob Hayward; Caleb Hazelton, U.S. Marine Corps; Teonna Healey, New England School of Hair Design; Zachariah Herndon, Lehigh University; Alexis Ippolito, River Valley Community College; Aditi Jogdand, University of Connecticut; Rosemary Johnson, River Valley Community College; Inderpreet Kaur, Plymouth State University; David Kay; Maria Kennelly, University of North Texas; Colin Kiernan, St. John’s University-Queens; Zachary Koff, University of New Hampshire; Hunter LaHaye; Logan LaJoie; Benjamin Lammert, Rochester Institute of Technology; Bryan Leeman, Vermont Technical College; Jennifer Lopez, Keene State College; Jacob Lyn; Sierra MacDonald, Colby Sawyer College; Luke Martin, Jr., University of New Hampshire; Patrick Mason, Suffolk University; Grant McClellan; Kaitlyn Merrihew, Plymouth State University; Jillian Miller, Rochester Institute of Technology; Evan Minsky; Laken Mooney, Saint Lawrence University; John Moorhead, Ithaca College; Troy Nelson; Jason Ni; Emma Nichols, New England College; Maverick O’Meara, Massachusetts College of Art & Design; Gwen Ouellette; Kyle Pelletier, Bentley University; Isabel Peress, University of Michigan; Abigail Peterson; Annika Pixley, River Valley Community College; Bradley Plodzik, University of New Hampshire; Erik Plomp; Trent Porter; Ryan Preston, Keene State College; Zachary Preston, Southern New Hampshire University; Weati Punni, University of Miami; Hannah Reade, Colby Sawyer College; Simon Reed, Peridance Capizio Dance Center; Justin Rogers, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Meagan Rush; Jonathan Sandmann, Villanova University; Ana Laura Santana, University of Hartford; Dalton Shea; Brooke Silver, River Valley Community College; Caiden Skakalski, Plymouth State University; Emerson Sleeper, Wheaton College; Jamion Smith-Nelson; Jack Smyrski, Wheaton College; Zoe Soule; Brian Steen; Cameron Stevens, Vermont Technical College; Libby Stone, University of New Hampshire; Annabelle Stott, University of New Hampshire; Emebet Stott, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Benjamin Sullivan, River Valley Community College; Kevin Sullivan, Texas A&M-Galveston; Ryan Sullivan, Keene State College; Pierce Susco, Gettysburg College; Britney Sweet; Samual Swensen; Ashlyn Taber, Syracuse University; William Tanski IV, Northwestern University; Rowan Tatun; Benjamin Taylor, Keene State College; Graham Ten Haken, Bridgewater State University; Dylan Tucker, U.S. Marine Corps; Noel Vorachak, Plymouth State University; Collin Wainwright, McDaniel College; Austin Whitcomb, River Valley Community College; Brianna White, Plymouth State University; Devan Williams; Anna Wolke, Saint Lawrence University; DeShawn Wood; Alexia Zagarola, Florida State University; Lorraine Zaki, University of Rochester; Annie Zhao, University of California-Irvine; and Zipeng Zhou.


Lebanon High School's class of 2019 celebrated graduation on Thursday night. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect day of the week for the ceremony. 

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