Stevens High graduates urged to embrace opportunities

  • 2023 Stevens High School graduates wait for the start of their commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Claremont, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

  • Classmates Madison Wheeler, left, and Grace Seale react to the call going out to line up for the start of the Stevens High School commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Claremont, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

  • Victor Lema spends a few minutes on his phone as he waits to line up before the start of the Stevens High School commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Claremont, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

  • Stevens High School graduate Lilly Crowl and her fellow classmates try to be quiet before walking out into the school gymnasium to start their commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Claremont, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/8/2023 9:41:26 PM
Modified: 6/8/2023 9:41:28 PM

CLAREMONT — Never forget the positive roles, both big and small, others play in life and put aside fears when new challenges come along were messages from the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Stevens High School graduating Class of 2023.

The 153rd Stevens graduation began with the traditional march into the Carr gymnasium. As Pomp and Circumstance played, friends and family snapped photos, recorded videos, smiled and waved at their favorite graduates.

Senior Madison Wheeler performed the National Anthem, which was followed by welcoming remarks from SAU 6 Superintendent Michael Tempesta, who urged the graduates to continue to work hard and be proud of their accomplishments.

“Think for yourself and continue to create your own true self,” Tempesta said to the graduates seated before him. “Your ideas matter. Don’t stop believing in your family, your school, your community and most importantly your dreams.”

English teacher Sondra Hardin introduced Salutatorian Jesse Foote, who will be attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Hardin said Foote was intelligent, hardworking, reliable to family, friends and his school and someone who was willing to stand up and stand out for his convictions.

Foote began his remarks by recalling his freshman jitters in those first few weeks of high school, but said he soon came to embrace the high school experience at Stevens and will leave with lifelong memories.

“The relationships that I have formed within the past four years have allowed me to create all sorts of memorable moments that have turned into the best of my life,” Foote said.

After forming bonds and sharing unforgettable experiences together, Foote said the next chapter in life now beckons.

“As we continue to find our journey, I hope we all learn to keep our heads up and take pride in what we become,” Foote said. “Don’t be like the freshman Jesse that was nervous to start his journey. Instead, embrace every available opportunity.”

Dan Decker, a longtime Stevens social studies teacher who retired last year, introduced Valedictorian Matthew Becker and said he had many of the characteristics of a Renaissance man, including fostering many interests and being someone who never stops learning.

Becker, who will attend the University of New Hampshire, highlighted a moment a few weeks into his freshman year that revealed the role people can play in others’ lives, even if the interaction seems inconsequential at the time. When he was introduced to a friend as someone who “peaked in the eighth grade,” Becker said something clicked and he realized he needed to change his negative outlook.

“I don’t know if he remembers this incident.” Becker said of the classmate who made the statement. “But those words echoed in my head. And that flipped a switch in me. I ended up getting my grades up and I kept them there.”

Becker also took on the role of tutoring classmates, which he initially disliked but soon came to realize he was fortunate to be able to help someone.

“We all make an impact and I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a positive one,” Becker said. “I hope that I continue to find positive roles in the lives of those around me and I hope that the graduates of this class will do so too.”

After graduate Ronald Winship IV was given the Edgar L. Lord Faculty Award, the graduates received their diplomas and Shanee Taylor, a class advisor with Shelleen Avery, offered some words of advice on hard work, tests and lessons.

“It is OK if you don’t know what you want to do in life, hard work will take you where you need to go,” Taylor said. “In school, you are taught a lesson and given a test. In life, you are often given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

The ceremony concluded with the graduates proceeding down the center aisle and sharing final hugs and goodbyes with their teachers.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

Stevens High School Class of 2023

Josephine Aiken, Keene State College; Cedric Allen, Colby-Sawyer College; Aidan Antonivich, Colby-Sawyer College; Olivia Baker, Southern New Hampshire University; Summer Barrette, York College of Pennsylvania; Matthew Becker, University of New Hampshire; Mariem Bellili, exchange student; AmberMarie Bizon, returning to Stevens High School; Joshua D Blanchard, returning to Stevens High School; Catherine Bliss, Bentley University; Nya Boulay, University of New Hampshire; Erik Brusco, returning to Stevens High School; Gavin Candon, River Valley Community College; Ryan Clough, employment; Savanah Cole, employment; Nya Corliss, employment; Lilly Crowl, River Valley Community College; Samuel Dalke, University of New Hampshire; Victoria Dalke, University of New Hampshire; Nicolas DaSilva, Champlain College; Wyatt Davis, River Valley Community College; Mary-Kate Dennis, employment; Minahil Farhan, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Jesse Foote, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Morgan Fowler, Keene State College; Patrik Fredette, employment; Mackenzie Frisbee, Utica University; Devin Genes, employment; Richelle Girard, St. Joseph’s College of Maine; Xavier Glidden, Army National Guard; Liam Goggin, employment; Christopher Gorecki, employment; Sabrina Hagar, The Pennsylvania State University; Dominick Hammond, returning to Stevens High School; Robert Inglee, employment; Colton Knight, returning to Stevens High School; Hailey Knight, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Ethan Knowlton, employment; Karter Kraft, employment; Haley Landry, Husson University; Trystan Lane, Colby-Sawyer College; Regan Lantas, Keene State College; Emma Laplante, Keene Beauty Academy; Lacy Laroche, Keene State College; Hunter LaRocque, Rome City Institute; Stella Lavertue, Colby-Sawyer College; Andrew Lawton, River Valley Community College; Evan Lee, employment; Victor Lema, employment; Khyli Logrono, University of Central Florida; Sean Manyen, employment; Brianna Martel, River Valley Community College; Johndiel Martinez, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University; Benjamin Mason, employment; Meghan McNulty, University of New Hampshire; Ashley Michaud, Army National Guard; Landon Monbleau, employment; Kianna Morton, employment; Peyton Murray, employment; Hunter Myhre, employment; Aiden Neil, employment; Gabriel Oliveira De Carvalho, employment; Annabelle Osgood, employment; Cameron Oxton, Vermont State University; Alyssa Paquette, Eastern Connecticut State University; Gabriel Parker, Southern New Hampshire Unviersity; Hannah Petrin, University of New Hampshire; Christian Picard, employment; Elliot Ploss, returning to Stevens High School; Samantha Prach, New England College; Dominic Puksta, University of New Hampshire; Jai-Lique Ribeiro, New Hampshire Technical Institute; Kadyn Robidoux, University of New Hampshire; Ashley Roy, employment; Hanna Royce, Keene State College; Atticus Rozzell, Craven Community College; Kiara Sawyer, employment; Naissa Schofield, employment; Grace Seale, employment; Colby Shepard, employment; Lucas Smith, Castleton University; Tara Sullivan, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Isabella Tebo, University of Rhode Island; Shyel Tejeda, employment; Ty Theriault, Colby-Sawyer College; Kaden Thyne, employment; Emily Treadway, University of New Hampshire; Alexander Tucker; returning to Stevens High School; Carson Vielguth, employment; Ryan West, employment; Madison Wheeler, Southern New Hampshire University; Aiden White, employment; Corban Williams, Army National Guard; Lexi Wilson, employment; Ronald Winship, employment; and Marshall Wright, employment.

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