Beautiful Night for a Sendoff as Newport High Graduates 78

  • Hannah Clark adjusts her New Hampshire Scholar medallion while holding the class poem she will read before the start of her Newport High School Graduation on June 7, 2017, in Newport, N.H. Next to her is classmate Jacob Merritt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Newport High School graduate Dakota Avery waits for his fellow graduates on June 7, 2017, in Newport, N.H. Avery had arrived at the ceremony 90 minutes early. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Newport High School class Treasurer Aspen Toliver, left, class Secretary Samantha Dodge and Jacqueline Bourgeois wait for their fellow classmates to march to their seats for the start of their graduation on June 7, 2017, in Newport, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • Before the start of his graduation ceremony, Newport High School graduate Zach Roberts carries friend Wyatt Bruno, 4, of Lempster, N.H. Roberts said Wyatt was like a little brother to him. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Before the start of her Newport High School graduation, Teneal Cloutier hugs Elizabeth Spooner on June 7, 2017, in Newport, N.H. Spooner has been Cloutier's paraprofessional for the past two years. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/7/2017 11:54:07 PM
Modified: 6/19/2017 1:24:56 PM

Newport — High school graduation is often called the first step into adulthood.

For Newport graduate Hannah Clark, adult responsibilities came sooner and suddenly as she was beginning her sophomore year. Her mother suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed.

Clark said she was thrust into the role of handling many daily duties at home while continuing her studies and extracurricular activities.

“It turned my life upside down,” she said.

But rather than retreat from those challenges or be overwhelmed by them, the experience changed her from being a disinterested student to a focused one, while also holding a job.

“It made me realize how important school was, and from then on, I worked hard to make the honor roll,” Clark said, adding that she had wonderful support from her teachers, coaches and classmates who were always willing and able to lend her a hand.

The experience brought challenges, but Clark believes it will make her better prepared for college.

“It made me more mature,” she said, “and on top of that I realized how badly I wanted to go to college.”

Clark, who will study business administration and psychology at UNH in the fall, joined her 77 classmates for Wednesday’s commencement on the common. Graduates marched to their seats in front of the gazebo under brilliant early evening sunshine while the high school band played Pomp and Circumstance followed by the school’s Chamber Chorus singing the National Anthem

Speakers delivered a few different messages, from thanks to the school, community and classmates and remembrances and lessons learned the last four years to challenges for the next phase of the graduates’ lives.

Salutatorian Bethany Boone spoke of a world divided between those who see themselves as “entitled” and those who are selfless “stars” helping to brighten the darkness. The stars, Boone said, “beat back the darkness because the truly selfless think about those affected by the darkness.

“My question to you is which one will you be? The entitled or the selfless?” she continued, encouraging her classmates to be the latter while warning them it will be difficult at times.

“The selfless know that life is full of heartbreak and hope, it is a tightrope that we must all walk from one end to the other, and we all fall off, but the selfless never let that stop them from climbing back on and trying again.

“The world has enough entitled people; it desperately needs the selfless to answer the call of a broken and fragmented world,” Boone said. “So, my selfless warriors, are you ready?”

Class essayist Michael Tremblay turned to some well-known philosophers and writers to convey his message of what Newport has taught him in and out of school, beginning with Socrates.

“ ‘The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.’ In one line, Socrates illuminates for us something that all students learn over time, and that the more you learn, the more you realize there is so much more to learn,” Tremblay said.

From T.S. Eliot, the British poet, came a challenge: “ ‘If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are.’ ” Tremblay described it as lyrical way of saying, “If you’re not willing to try, you will never know if you can do.”

With other quotes from Marcel Proust on being grateful for those who make us happy, and Roman statesman Marcus Cicero, who called gratitude not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others, Tremblay delivered his thanks.

“I would like to thank Newport High School and its outstanding and unequalled staff of teachers, coaches, mentors and friends,” he said. “Without you all, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Class president and Valedictorian Jacob Merritt, who will attend Clarkson in the fall, gave the welcome address, telling the audience that a crazy game they were made to play on the senior trip in which they had to make animals sound with their eyes closed and find others making the same sound taught some valuable lessons. Overcoming fear, learning to listen, finding friends and conquering chaos was in many ways similar to the high school journey, Merritt said.

“Overcoming all of these obstacles in both the game and in high school has built us as individuals and as one,” Merritt said.

He asked his classmates as they go their separate ways to remember their time in Newport, the teachers who shaped them, the town that supported them, the families and mentors that have always encouraged them, and their friends.

In his Valedictorian remarks, Merritt said Newport has been a special place that has taught him a lot about community and doing for others.

“Newport has taught me about camaraderie and building true friendships,” Merritt said. “Newport has taught me about selflessness and how to give back. As I conclude this speech, I see hundreds of families, friends, and community members gathered in celebration. I see a sense of pride and joy. So for the Class of 2017, let’s go and make Newport proud.”

Newport Class of 2017

Girls: Kayla Baldwin, Margaret Bennett, Claudia Biron, Meghan Bodreau, Bethany Boone, Jacqueline Bourgeois, Hannah Clark, Teneal Cloutier, Samantha Dodge, Alyssa Fulton, Elise Gosselin, Paige Hannigan, Jaiden Harris, Kendra Hayward, Hope Hibbard, Shelby Jenkins, Kaylyn Johnson, Krystin Kibbey, Emma Kibbie, Anastasia Marino, Hayley Philbrook, Athena Poirier, Gabrielle Scanlon, Morgan Shepard, Maegan Sherburne, Amber St. Amand, Brittney Stevens, Briana Swan, Mara Thayer, Aspen Toliver, Darby Wellman; Boys: Cameron Ackerman, Dakota Avery, Mason Ballou, Austin Bedell, Duncan Braley, Scott Branch, Connor Callum – King, George Catsam, Jeremiah Chartier Jr., Slade Clark, Riley Clayton, Lief Elliott, Carter Gardner, Cameron Gebo, Tyler Hall, Brendan Halleck, Thomas Hubert, Ian Jenson, Hunter Johnson, Lucas Johnson, Bryce Jones, Callan Livingstone, Andre Maincent, Nicholas McBroom, Dylan McNamara, Jacob Merritt, Darren O’Connor, Hunter Pellerin, Cody Pillsbury, Ethan Ritondo, Zachary Roberts, Ariel Roman, Dominic Russel, Tyler Sharron, Brandon Sondrini, Jeremy Soulia, James Spencer, Steven Stanley, Michael Tremblay, Bryce Turner, Curtis Vogler, Luke Wallace, Alec Warden, Brandon Whalen, Nate Whipple, Noah Wood.

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