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For White River Valley High graduates, ‘it’s just the beginning’

  • Weston Trombly, center right, stands on his tiptoes to read Bazel Russell’s cap, which says “I’ve been weighting for this day” with an image of a dumbbell, before White River Valley High School’s graduation ceremony on the green in South Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Alaina Dodge, left, hugs Meredith Schumann while holding her diploma after White River Valley High School’s graduation ceremony on the green in South Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Bruce Bryan, of Randolph, Vt., takes a photo as his daughter Hannah Bryan receives her diploma during White River Valley High School’s graduation ceremony on the green in South Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Family and friends take photos with their graduates after White River Valley High School’s graduation ceremony on the green in South Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/18/2022 9:53:59 PM
Modified: 6/18/2022 9:53:39 PM

ROYALTON — Black caps and gowns might have kept the seniors of White River Valley High School a bit warmer on their surprisingly chilly June graduation morning.

The 38 graduates, facing friends and family under a white tent and gray skies on the South Royalton green, were the first class to spend their entire high school career at White River Valley following the 2018 merger of the South Royalton and Whitcomb high schools.

Principal Reed McCracken lauded the students for their perseverance through the complications of the merger, which came after persistent re-voting and very public debate, as well as the pandemic.

Through it all, the high school still put on performances of The Importance of Being Earnest and Mamma Mia, cheered on senior Hannah Bryan as she became the top female bowler in the Twin States, and picked up seven state championships.

“And but for a last-second shot they would have eight,” McCracken was quick to add, referring to the boys basketball team’s heartbreaking loss to Blue Mountain in the VPA Division IV championship in March.

But now the graduates’ four years at White River Valley have come to a close, and William Wuttke warned the seniors of changes coming in his honorary address.

“You lifelong Vermonters have probably been hanging out with the same people for about a decade. Even if you stay in the area, your social circle is going to look different,” Wuttke said. “This is a great opportunity to explore yourself.”

Still, Wuttke cautioned the graduates against letting fear of failure keep them from trying new things.

“Use the mistakes you’ve already made, and the mistakes you’re about to make, to become the best person you can,” he advised. “This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. Go out and try something new.”

Wuttke graduated in 2016 from South Royalton High School, where he was a three-sport captain, participated in music and theater, and served as Student Council president. Now a software engineer, he graduated from the University of Vermont with majors in computer science and data science.

“It can feel tough coming from a small school. There are areas like computer science where we didn’t have coverage,” said Wuttke, adding that in turn “the internet became a beautiful resource.”

“There are also a lot of advantages to going to a small school,” he continued, citing public speaking as a skill he got significant practice in coming from a smaller student body.

Valedictorian Gretchen Eddy also urged the graduates not to let the fear of being judged keep them from discovering their most authentic selves.

“Everyone here can and should benefit from being themselves,” said Eddy, who argued that this is the path toward forging the most sustainable relationships.

Wuttke closed out his address with a daunting but hopeful reality check, mentioning climate change, increasing income inequality, the persistent pandemic and a rotten housing market as just some of the challenges these graduates will face.

“We’re going to let these problems consume us, or we’re going to become the generation that solves a record number of problems,” Wuttke said. “Looking at the bright minds behind me, I bet the latter.”

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at fmize@vnews.com.

White River Valley High School Class of 2022:

Camiren Ray Audette; Braden Richard Martin; Emily Ann Bean; Holly JoAnn Mayer; Sofia Bell; Julia Elisabeth Sue Morse; Sydney Paige Britch; Taryn Nelson; Jasmine Ann Brown; Leah Ann Quillia; Hannah Marie Bryan; Nicholas Anthony Ramos; Dominic L. Craven; Lucas Lloyd Reed; Alaina M. Dodge; Jamesen M. Roussel; Isabelle Durkee; Bazel Lutris McCrory Russell; Felicity Raine Ebare; Meredith Jean Schumann; Gretchen Eddy; Cody Andrew Scott; Macin Gaudette; Joseph Charles Serviss Jr.; Mason C. Gauthier; Wynter Rose Simack; Hayden A. Howe; Arliss James Spaulding; Mason Hunt; Logan Stiebris; Riley Jones; Kaleb Issac Thornton; Elijah Gordon Kinsley; Austin Tracy; Matthew G. Lincoln; Weston Robert Trombly; Avyanna Litchfield; and Alexis Wertheim.




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