Windsor High graduates celebrated for persistence 

Alyssa Scalese, 16, hugs her brother, Windsor High School senior William Scalese, as Vance Martin looks on at left, before the procession to commencement in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. Scalese was one of 54 graduating seniors in the class and will leave Vermont shortly to train for the Navy. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Alyssa Scalese, 16, hugs her brother, Windsor High School senior William Scalese, as Vance Martin looks on at left, before the procession to commencement in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. Scalese was one of 54 graduating seniors in the class and will leave Vermont shortly to train for the Navy. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — James M. Patterson

Aaralyn Connolly adjusts her bangs with help from her phone camera before commencement at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Aaralyn Connolly adjusts her bangs with help from her phone camera before commencement at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Harrison Hall gets a kiss from his aunt, Windsor middle school principal Colleen Deschamp, as his twin David Hall, right, looks on at right before Windsor High School graduation in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Harrison Hall gets a kiss from his aunt, Windsor middle school principal Colleen Deschamp, as his twin David Hall, right, looks on at right before Windsor High School graduation in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — James M. Patterson

Annabel Vigneault, right, watches as Tydus Percy, left, balances extra mortar boards and other objects on the head of his classmate Vance Martin, middle, before commencement at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Annabel Vigneault, right, watches as Tydus Percy, left, balances extra mortar boards and other objects on the head of his classmate Vance Martin, middle, before commencement at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Windsor High buildings and grounds assistant Joe Putnam hands out cold water to seniors waiting to begin their procession to commencement ceremonies in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Windsor High buildings and grounds assistant Joe Putnam hands out cold water to seniors waiting to begin their procession to commencement ceremonies in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Kaidance Craig, third from right, and Jade Martens, second from left, laugh during the keynote address by retiring English teacher Richard Zwicker during Windsor High School's 155th commencement in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. Craig, who is class president, said she plans to major in English and minor in editing and publishing at the University of Maine. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Kaidance Craig, third from right, and Jade Martens, second from left, laugh during the keynote address by retiring English teacher Richard Zwicker during Windsor High School's 155th commencement in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, June 2, 2023. Craig, who is class president, said she plans to major in English and minor in editing and publishing at the University of Maine. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

By KAELI BENNETT

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-03-2023 8:54 PM

WINDSOR — Windsor High School’s community gathered in the school’s gymnasium during Friday’s sudden thunderstorm to celebrate its 155th commencement. Those gathered applauded the 54 graduates for their persistence through struggles, as well as their accomplishments.

It’s no secret that the class of 2023 has been affected by a great deal of hardships, largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Salutatorian Hollis Wilson, who chose to do her sophomore year completely remotely, acknowledged this and thanked Windsor’s educators for transforming her outlook toward school.

“I struggled to see any reason to continue trying,” Wilson said. “… But going back in person for my junior year changed everything, and that is all because of the involved staff members of Windsor High School.”

Valedictorian Parley Burklund pivoted and focused on the memories he and the other members of his community got to make together despite the pandemic. These included crafting unfinished murals on the walls of classrooms, spending hours studying mathematics with other struggling students and participating in this past year’s theater production.

Burklund ended with some words of advice: “Just go do whatever it is you want to do.”

This sentiment was reinforced by keynote speaker Richard Zwicker, a retiring English teacher who sprinkled words of wisdom throughout his otherwise comical farewell speech. This was Zwicker’s first time speaking to Windsor’s graduating class at commencement since 2009.

“Unless you want to be perpetually pissed off,” he said, “be patient. … Resist the urge to hate.”

Zwicker, like Burklund, encouraged graduates to find their own place and purpose in life. He asked them who they are and who they want to be.

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“Try to spend as much time as possible with people and in situations where you can be yourself,” he said. “Create options for yourself.”

Principal Kathleen Ryan noted that all of the seniors in the audience are works in progress and spoke of the graduates’ perseverance through challenges they have encountered along their way through high school. She noted that navigating the pandemic and remote learning will prepare the graduating class for lives full of struggles that lead to success and fulfillment.

“Success is a wonderful feeling. Remember, don’t just dream of it, wake up and work hard for it,” she said. “Capture the spirit that is in this room tonight, and carry it with you in all of your tomorrows.”

While the graduates grow, they must branch out and follow new paths in life.

“As comfortable as school might be, and as happy as we will be to see you again,” Zwicker said, “the truth is we can’t stay here forever.”

Kaeli Bennett can be reached at kaelibennett34@gmail.com.

Windsor High Class of 2023

Estella Attwood, University of Southern Maine, social work; Liam Attwood, University of New England, sports management; Ryan Barrows, workforce, Connolly Landscaping; Jenna Barton, workforce, tattoo artist; Keegan Batchelder, workforce, carpentry; Brianna Beland, CCV, school psychology; Bradley Bowers, workforce, Macks Trucking and Excavation; Kadence Brooks, workforce: Evan Burke, U.S. Army; Parley Burkland, University of Vermont, physics; Sydney Chatlos, Dartmouth Health LNA internship program; Aaralyn Connolly, workforce, PCA/assisted living; Ellynor Connolly, Colby Sawyer, nursing; Kaidance Craig, University of Maine Farmington, journalism; Maison Fortin, workforce, carpentry; Zeb Gaudet, workforce; David Hall, Marymount Manhattan College, media and communications; Harrison Hall, workforce, Mt. Ascutney Hospital; Jordan Hart, workforce, personal trainer; Hunter Hemond, gap year, radiology tech; Oliver Holden, workforce, freelance artist; Hailey Huppe, workforce, 911 operator; Brennan Jackson, workforce; Hailey Jarvis, workforce, business entrepreneur; Logan Jarvis, workforce, retail sales; Hunter Jasinski, workforce, Mt. Ascutney Hospital; Ashlyn Johnson, trade school, business administration; Nathan Kellogg, workforce; Olivia Kelly, workforce, dental assistant; Ash Lavanway, University of Maine Farmington, English and journalism; Rainn Lockwood, gap year, travel and wellness; Jade Martens, University of Maine Farmington, biology; Vance Martin, workforce, landscaping; Travis McAllister, American International College, exercise science; Charles Palmer, workforce, Lebanon Highway Department; Tydus Percy, gap year, computer science and engineering; Audri Pettirossi, Vermont University Castleton, film cinema communications; Alexina Peckinpaugh, Mount Holyoke College, English and history; Rodger Petermann, Vermont University Lyndon, physical therapy; William Scalese, U.S. Navy; Jasmine Shaw, workforce, retail sales; Trevin Shute, workforce, farming; Riley Soles, workforce, bank service representative; Natalie Strout, gap year, travel - RVCC; Parker Tenney, workforce, travel; Skylar Thibodeau, Husson University, biochemistry; Matthew Tidwell, U.S. Air National Guard; Lisa Todd, CCV, behavioral science; Annabelle Vigneault, gap year, workforce; Hollis Wilson, Whitman College, environmental biology; and Logan Worrall, Vermont University Castleton, personal training.