Windsor graduates celebrate commencement with gratitude

Windsor graduate Zak Beck passes through a decorated doorway to meet his classmates who are waiting for their their graduation ceremony to start on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. Graduate Lucian Vigneault and his girlfriend Mia Moreno are in the hallway. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor graduate Zak Beck passes through a decorated doorway to meet his classmates who are waiting for their their graduation ceremony to start on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. Graduate Lucian Vigneault and his girlfriend Mia Moreno are in the hallway. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Windsor graduates Maja Thomas, left, Fern Day, and Anna Preece rap while waiting in line just before the start of their graduation ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor graduates Maja Thomas, left, Fern Day, and Anna Preece rap while waiting in line just before the start of their graduation ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Windsor graduates Corey Lockwood, left front, and Anthony Cook, Dante Roy, back left, and Nate Griffin walk to their seats to the tune of

Windsor graduates Corey Lockwood, left front, and Anthony Cook, Dante Roy, back left, and Nate Griffin walk to their seats to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance" before their graduation ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Windsor graduate Ryan Towne wears a mortar board he decorated with a Minecraft ender portal for his commencement ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. Behind him are classmates Ryan Page, left, and Aaron Archambault. The graduates were waiting for their commencement ceremony to start. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor graduate Ryan Towne wears a mortar board he decorated with a Minecraft ender portal for his commencement ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Windsor, Vt. Behind him are classmates Ryan Page, left, and Aaron Archambault. The graduates were waiting for their commencement ceremony to start. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-08-2024 4:35 PM

WINDSOR — The Windsor High School Class of 2024 celebrated its commencement Friday inside Harry Ladue Gymnasium with plenty of thank yous, words of hope and encouragement for the graduates’ future, and a little rock 'n roll.

Moved inside because of rain, the ceremony began with graduate Maja Thomas singing the National Anthem followed by welcome remarks from teacher Jessica Taft, Superintendent Christine Bourne and School Board Chairman Davis McGraw.

"The world awaits your brilliance," Taft told the class. "Go for it and shine your light."

Bourne told the graduates success is better defined as the positive impact they can have on others. She urged them not to fear failure but to take risks, learn and grow, be kind to all and show empathy toward others.

The Vermont-based band About Gladys performed “Uptown Funk” and “Free Bird” followed by keynote speaker and Windsor High School Principal Kate Ryan.

Ryan told the graduates the parting for her was “bittersweet” and being together has been a privilege for her. She praised the graduates for their hard work, dedication and perseverance, which have given her great pride and joy as they mark a major milestone in their lives and move on to the next chapter.

“Whatever your next steps may be, do so with courage, conviction and a relentless pursuit of your dreams,” Ryan said.

She reminded them to thank those who have been there in support. Each one of them brings a “unique voice and perspective to share,” she said, which they should use to “drive positive change and make a meaningful impact in the world.

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“I have no doubt you will rise to the occasion and leave a mark on history,” Ryan said.

Salutatorian Madison Williams and Valedictorian Madison Lawyer both devoted much of their remarks to thanking all those who helped them along the way and shared their remembrances of the challenge and fun of high school.

The last few weeks have made Williams sentimental and better appreciative of the value of going to a small school where teachers and peers know each other, she said. Coming to realize her four years went by fast, Williams said the biggest lesson of leaving high school will be learning to accept change.

“I hope I am not just speaking for myself when I say I will cherish my memories here forever and it is hard to let my time at Windsor come to an end and become just that, memories.”

Though occasionally a complainer, Williams said she would not trade her time in Windsor for anything. She leaves with a feeling of love for the school and people, hoping they all can manage to keep in touch.

“Please don’t become strangers,” said Williams, who will attend the University of Vermont. “Though our time together may have been short in the grand scheme of things, a piece of me will always be here in Windsor alongside you all.”

Lawyer felt a mixture of sadness and happiness over last year, excited about the future for her and her classmates but also understanding it is a bit scary. But mostly Lawyer, who will attend Keene State, delivered a speech full of thank yous for “my teachers, my peers, my friends and the community” and for the good that comes for working hard, something she encouraged all to do in the years ahead.

“Whether it's with an actual job or improving yourself, or getting good grades, just work hard,” Lawyer said. “Make yourself proud before anyone else.

“To my classmates, I’m proud of you and I know that you’re choosing paths for yourselves that will lead to success and fulfillment,” Lawyer said. “To the teachers who taught me so much more than academics, thank you so much. To those who are friends, know that I love you and am eternally thankful for your support.”

As names were called and diplomas handed out, the graduates made their way to the back of the gym where the teachers received them with handshakes, hugs and congratulations.

When they were officially declared graduates, there were cheers, applause and caps tossed in the air. The Class of 2024 filed out while John Denver’s “Country Roads” played over the loudspeakers.

Patrick O'Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

Windsor High School Class of 2024

Bradley Adams, York County Community College, health studies; Gwen Ambrose, University of Vermont, psychology; Aaron Archambault, Champlain College, game design; Nyome Athorne, University of Phoenix, vet tech; Garrett Barry, workforce, landscaping; Lillyana Beach, workforce, carpentry; Avery Bean, Saint Mary of the Woods, kinesiology; Zack Beck, workforce; Clayton Besaw, certificate course, freelance computer; Lee Bevis, workforce, property maintenance; Cameron Briggs, workforce, gunsmithing; Nicole Burke, workforce, Angelina's Rose piercing apprentice; Guy Cicarelli, workforce, Toyota Master Technician; Anthony Cook, Plymouth State University; Fern Day, University of Vermont, nurs ing; Cam Doxter, workforce, carpentr y and floor ing; Bailey Follensbee, Franklin Pierce University, psychology; Gabby Gilbert, gap year, service learning abroad; Nathan Griffin, workforce; Matthias Heim, Vermont State University in Randolph, diesel mechanic; Carter Hodgdon, Advantage Truck Group, diesel mechanic; Ernest Hodgdon, Saint Michael's College, psychology, pre-law and Spanish; Noah Jackson, Unified Communications; Meranda Johnson, Franklin Pierce University, nursing; Rhaiven Kellogg, workforce, CDL — North Country Lumber; Hunter Kribstock, workforce, music career; Trevor LaGrow, workforce, trades; Madison Lawyer, Keene State Honors College, English, education and theater; Corey Lockwood, Vermont State University in Casleton, business administration; Cole Lord, Ohio Technical College, high performance mechanic; Landon Mas, workforce, trades; Olivia McLaey, Plymouth State University, criminal justice; Jonah Meadows, workforce, landscaping; Devan Metzger, University of Vermont, chemistry and biology; Tanner Moody, WyoTech, diesel mechanic; Brady Olmstead, workforce, real estate; Brody Osgood, Norwich University, construction management; Ryan Page, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, computer science; Sydney Perry, Rivier University, nursing; Anna Preece, Duquesne University, nursing; Owen Roberge, Ohio Tech, high performance mechanic; Dante Roy, workforce, CDL trucking; Amber Simonds, Colby-Sawyer College, sports management; Daniel Steffensen, Danish college, economics; Ryan Towne, River Valley Community College, information technology; Maja Thomas, Colby-Sawyer College, business administration; Savannah Underhill, Champlain College, social work; Lucian Vigneault, military and University of Vermont, biology; Kain White, workforce, funeral services apprenticeship; Katlyn White, Colby-Sawyer College, education; Kiara Wildgoose, Bryant University, health science; and Madison Williams, University of Vermont, business administration.