Mascoma Valley High graduates ‘proud of where we come from’

  • Mascoma Valley Regional High School juniors Kayli Stapelfeld, Kaylee Felix, and Madisun LaCasse hand out programs and usher guests at their high school’s graduation ceremony in Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph) Julia Levine photograph

  • Graduates Mariah David of Enfield, N.H., Zackary Largus of Canaan, N.H., Lance Dimond, of Enfield, and Chontai Wright, of Canaan, wait near the entrance to Mascoma Valley Regional High School just before their procession to the field in West Canaan on June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph)

  • Families and friends wave hello to the graduates as they process onto the field at Mascoma Valley Regional High School’s graduation ceremony in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph) Julia Levine

  • Senior-class president Ella Barrett reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of global warming and recent instances of gun violence during her speech at Mascoma Valley Regional High School’s graduation ceremony in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph) Julia Levine photographs

  • Graduate Logan Mallett receives his diploma on stage at Mascoma Valley Regional High School’s graduation ceremony in West Canaan, N.H., on June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph)

  • Hawkens Barton celebrates his graduation while walking back to his seat after receiving his diploma from Mascoma Valley Regional High School in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph) Julia Levine photographs

  • Sixty-three high school seniors from the class of 2022 graduate from Mascoma Valley Regional High School in West Canaan, N.H., on June 10, 2022. (Julia Levine photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/11/2022 9:57:43 PM
Modified: 6/11/2022 9:55:25 PM

CANAAN — In billowing purple and white robes, 63 seniors paraded onto the football field at Mascoma Valley Regional High School on Friday evening, greeted by hundreds of friends, family members and teachers, packed shoulder to shoulder on folding chairs in a sign of normality not always present during their high school years.

From the start of the ceremony, the class displayed its ability to command change, with class president Ella Barrett announcing a shift in the printed program. They wanted Treasurer Meghan Clough’s presentation of the class gift to be first.

Moments later, Clough asked for the cape to be removed from a large rectangular shape in the middle of the stage, revealing a new podium adorned with the high school’s logo. The gift was immediately put to use, lending an extra air of professionalism to the stage.

Before they could receive their diplomas, however, retired teacher Shawn Joyce delighted in giving them “one last lecture.”

Joyce, who taught business education for 33 years at MVRHS, recalled his last day in the classroom — Friday, March 13, 2020, when the young adults sitting before him were sophomores. The school switched to remote learning the following Monday; Joyce retired not knowing if he would see them again. It made for an abrupt goodbye.

Two years later, those same students put him at the top of their guest list, and the affection and respect flowed both ways. Later in the ceremony, each student would receive a handwritten note from Joyce along with their diploma when they crossed the stage, but they didn’t know that as he spoke.

“We have unfinished business,” he began. The lesson was supposed to culminate in a self-awareness exercise, but in the interest of time, he would conclude it for them, calling the Class of ’22 “compassionate, independent, entertaining, successful and gifted.”

He listed the accomplishments made by individuals, including Opal Shinnlinger’s multiple D-III state championship wins in girls discus, the Granite State Challenge team’s competition in a statewide academic game show hosted by New Hampshire PBS and the establishment of the bass fishing club. He marveled at the support students gave one another, in and out of the classroom, and encouraged them to continue being kind.

Kindness and success in the face of adversity were dual themes in every speaker’s address. Co-Valedictorian Clough noted that the challenges students face coming from a small school did not limit their success because they have “grit and pride.” Though tiny in comparison to rival schools, their class was responsible for the MVRHS girls soccer team’s first home win; the success of Shinnlinger and the boys 4x800 relay — despite the fact that the school has no track — and sending two seniors to Granite State Challenge. She recalled a trip to Williamsburg, Va., in 2014 to compete in the Heritage Music Festival, where the band, guitar ensemble and chorus played their way past larger schools to first-place trophies.

“We are proud of where we come from,” she said, and she thanked the entire school community for giving them a safe place to “truly express themselves and feel loved.”

Barrett, the class president, pointed out that the challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, with “three different principals, three different learning styles and two different schedules,” did not affect their ability to succeed.

She urged classmates to continue working toward climate change solutions and noted that since they started kindergarten in 2009, the average temperature in New Hampshire has risen over three degrees. But “we have the power to change our future. I hope you enact change wherever you may go, and I hope you embrace change with grace and optimism.”

After the presentation of diplomas, each with a personal note from Joyce, along with scholarships totaling over $277,000, Superintendent Amanda Isabelle gave the final direction to the Class of ’22: to shift their tassels. The sea of supporters whooped and applauded, caps flew into a blue sky, and speakers bumped Pitbull & Ne-Yo’s Time of Our Lives. Graduates flooded onto the field, basking in the sun that broke through the clouds, to celebrate their transition in a manner fitting to them, exuberant and uninhibited, well aware of the challenges ahead, but ready to face them — with kindness, naturally.

L.A. Wetzel can be reached at

Mascoma Valley Regional High School Class of 2022

Elece Ann Baravalle; Ella Victoria Barrett; Hawkens Rex Thomas Barton; Jenna Novia Bean; Lisa Beth Brailey; Caden Charles Brown; Joseph Daniel Burris; Liza Naomi Cadwell; Alicia Helen Campbell; Shoshawna Willow Charles; Meghan Georgia Clough; Emilie Kathleen Conrad; Noah Andrew Cook; Chloe Evelyn Crate; Johnnice Alinsunurin Crooker; Mariah Ashley David; McKenzie Christine DeAmicis; Luca Engstrom Diehn; Lance Everett Dimond; Nicole Ashley Edmiston; Roman Daniel Farnsworth; Brittney Danielle Ferreira; Taya Marie Fields; Ethan Quinn Gelinas; Allison Jane Goulette; Hannah Jean Gove; Allan David Hammond; Owen Gregory Hearne; Jenna Randi Howe; Nicholas Joseph Josler; Liberti Elizabeth LaCasse; Nikolas Matthew Ladue; Yasmine Aaliyah Lambert; Zackary Angier Largus; Lacey Kurtis Laware; Casey Marie Lembke; Cardigan Melissa Loupis; Michael Asa Loynds; Logan Michael Mallett; Kaleb Tyler McIntyre; Owen Thomas McKinney; Tyler Lawrence Mekus; Peyton Bayne Morley; Margaret Elizabeth Morse; Brenden Richard Moses; Cole Edmund Moulton; Ian Vance Moulton; Mark Joseph Parkhurst; Mackenzie Lee Piano; Trevor Colton Sawyer; Benjamin Michael Seiler; Colin Grant Selby; Sarah Mikhala Shiyu Shepherd; Opal Eva Davorah Shinnlinger; Jaimie Anita Smith; Morgan Elizabeth Towne; Danielle Christine Vivian; Emily Elizabeth Webster; Catriona Kyra Williams; Joshua Fennelly Williams; Brianna Lynne Withington; Chontai Caroline Marie Wright; and Emma Riley Zuger.

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