BARRE – Saturday was "step-up day" at Spaulding High School, both literally and figuratively.
As four of their fellow graduates launched into the opening lyrics of "Don't Stop Believing" – a song picked by the class of 2005 – nearly 240 seniors decided to "step up" to see what they were hearing.
They did it together.
Standing two feet above A.G. Pendo Memorial Field, on the folding chairs that they'd been sitting in for more than 90 minutes, the gleeful graduates, who had just finished collecting their diplomas, decided to sing along.
" … Don't stop believin'. Hold on to the feelin'…"
Once the song was well under way, more than two dozen graduates hopped off their chairs and rushed to the nearby tent where they danced and hugged in a tight circle a few feet from the makeshift band composed of classmates Elizabeth Bailey, Travis Collins, Justin Kilian and Andrew O'Connor.
It was a poignant moment, one that highlighted a ceremony, which, despite a few sporadic sprinkles and some minor mechanical malfunctions, went off without a hitch.
Although it looked like rain at the outset (prompting Steve Rupp to show up for his graduation with a bath towel tucked under his arm) the clouds above the Spaulding High School and Barre Technical Center parted almost on cue while students were singing the school hymn: "Lead Kindly Light."
It was a welcome sign, according to Co-Principal Jeff Maher, who said the decision to stick with an outdoor graduation despite a forecast that threatened rain was the overwhelming consensus of parents who didn't want to be limited to the six tickets for each graduate if the ceremony were held in the gymnasium.
Maher, who had the honor of handing a diploma to his daughter, Meghan, on Saturday, was one of those parents.
"Who said a few drops of rain were going to stop the 112th Spaulding High School commencement form going forward?" Maher asked the graduates, their families and friends who attended the outdoor ceremony armed with an ample supply of umbrellas.
Maher said that was probably wise.
"After all, it is Vermont and the weather will change in a few minutes," he said.
Maher was right, though the first rain didn't fall until most of the diplomas were handed out and none of the showers lasted more than a few minutes.
Co-principal Cindy Donlon said this year's graduates deserved a break from Mother Nature.
"You are a special class. I'm not surprised the sun is starting to come out, I wish you the best," she said.
Although Maher, Donlon and Superintendent Dorothy Anderson all spoke briefly, the graduates did most of the talking during Saturday's ceremony.
In her welcoming remarks, Katie Spring reminisced with her classmates.
"Together we shared countless memories, laughs, a few tears and a lot of smiles," Spring said. "Together we endured stress from hours of homework; we saw tragedy on September 11 and we debated controversial issues from the war to locker changes."
Spring, who concluded with one word – "Peace" – challenged graduates to go out and show the world the lessons they'd learned at Spaulding.
"Continue to give hugs and high-fives, and smile at people you see, because even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference," she said, adding: "…When you are caught in a situation where you can choose anger or love, choose love, because love makes the most lasting impact and changes our world for the better."
Valedictorian Jodi Guinn echoed that theme, assuring the class that despite their diverse background the students who graduated Saturday were all "privileged."
"We all live in quiet, safe central Vermont, and we have all had the opportunity to receive an education," she said, noting that, in a world filled with problems that can be backed up by staggering statistics, that is saying something.
"It is our responsibility as privileged young people to try and make a change," Guinn said, challenging her classmates to do just that in whatever way they see fit.
"I don't know how I'm going to affect the world yet, or whether my impact will be big or small, but in coming years I plan to find out," she vowed. "For now, I'm going to start small. I'm going to wish my dad a happy Father's Day … and tonight at Project Grad, I'm going to spend time with as many different people as possible. What are you going to do?"
Salutatorian Courtney Lamdin, a self-described "shoe-a-holic," struck a different tone when she strode to the podium wearing her favorite shoes – a pair of classic black Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
"I wore them on my first day of school at Spaulding and I'm wearing them now, on the last day of my high school career," Lamdin explained. "Even though they're four years old and pretty grubby looking, I just can't bring myself to throw them away."
Lamdin explained she grew into her shoes, much the same way she grew into Spaulding, surviving some "blisters" in the early going before things got comfortable.
But Lamdin warned that nothing lasts forever.
"Now I stand before you with the same pair of old shoes on my feet, probably for the last time," she said. "My shoes are tired. The black has faded to a dull gray, the heel is worn out and the rubber is starting to peel away from the toe. As much as I hate to say it, I need a new pair of shoes. After four years they are too broken in. It's time for a change."
Lamdin encouraged her classmates to embrace changes of their own as they prepare to scatter in all directions – some to college, others to the military and still others into the world of work.
"Don't be afraid to try on this new pair of shoes," she said, predicting that despite some predictable discomfort "… just like Spaulding, these new shoes will eventually fit."
Spaulding High School graduate:
Alejandro Alvarez; Kiley L. Anderson; James W. Archie; David James Ausmann; Linda Sue Avila;
Lindsey Ann Badeau; Brian Gerald Bailey; Elizabeth April Bailey; Erin Elizabeth Bancroft; Danielle Renee Baril; Kevin Brian Batchelder; Janice Lyn Beach; Emily Isabel Belcher; Sherri Ann Bell; Kyle Joseph Bellavance; Amanda Lee Bendickson; Jordan Daniel Bergeron; Ondreya Marie Berini; Andrew Paul Bernier; David D. Billings; Carisa Lee Bisson; Peter Jay Blanchard; Patrick Owen Blodgett; Dwight James Blondin; Gordon Patrick Blow; Nathan P. Bradbury; Jessica Lynn Brazukas; Joshua P. Breer; Ashley Roselind Saage Bresette; Amy L. Bressette; Cynthia Anne Brown; Lindsay Ann Brugger;
Matthew Thomas Gaynor Brummert; Tanisha Marie Burgos; Jesse Scott Burns; Katie L. Bylow; Justin James Carpenter; Shannon Marie Carpenter; Matthew P. Carten; Sarah Elizabeth Cecchini; Elizabeth Nicole Charron; Patrick Ryan Clifford; Brady A. Coburn; Andrew N. Collins; Travis A. Collins;
Shawn A. Commo; Michael Robert Comolli; Flynn Nunziatina Conti-Reilly; Nicholas Randall Copping;
Danielle Marie Coté; Maureen Margaret Coughlin; Meredith Farrell Cox; Jeffrey David Crosby; Jason A. DeCoteau; Adam J. DeForge; Christian Tyler DeForge; Jasmine Ditcheos; Sara Michelle Dolan; Joseph P. Drury; Dale DuBois, Jr.; Shawn M. Ducey; Caleb Murray Dufresne; Samantha Marie Duquette; Amanda K. Duranleau; Taz D. Duranleau; Schuyler Dylan Dutton; Shaun Bryan England; Thomas Leonard Estes; Scott R. Farnham; Kelly K. Fitzgerald; Kyle James Fleury; Ron Allen Flood; Kathryn G. Frattini; Richmund Childeric Peter Fries; Kelsey Lee Frost; Richard C. Gagnon; Irena Gagulic; Shawn William Garrett; Gwyn Jeanette Gauthier; Paige Gherardi; Nicole Lynn Gibbs; Stephen Jeffrey Gokey; Jessica Jody Grandbois; Travers Graves; Geoffrey Robert Greemore; Michael C. Gregoire; Janine Marie Griggs; Jodi Marie Guinn; Trevor S. Hallihan; Janna E. Hartman; Glenn Michael Haught; Sally Janice Haynes; Tacincala Sequoia Hidaka; Christina Marie (Gajewski) Hill; Ashley Sarah Hopkins; Andrea Elizabeth Hulbert; Benjamin John Hulbert; Ryan J. Hulbert; Christopher Philip Hull; Craig Kellett Hull; Karl R. Huntington; Eric Mark Hutchins; Jason Michael Hutchins; Jeffrey Michael Hutchins; Kristy Marie Isabelle;
Jenny Leah Jackman; Matthew Gregory Jackson; Peter S. Jamele; Sara L. Jewett; Jessica Lynn Jodoin; Joseph Allen Keane; Rebecca J. Kepnes-Letourneau; Justin Robert Kilian; Billie Jo Kimball; Brett Mathew Koziar; Didier Selom Kpesse; Dodzi George Kpesse; Brandon Scott Douglas Kwasnik; Vui Thi Bui Kwasnik; Krystal Amber Lafirira; Melissa Sue Laird; Courtney Alyse Lamdin; Danielle R. Landry;
Jessica Robin Landry; Zachariah John LaPerle; Lindsay Nicole Larson; Julie Lynn Laybourne; Sophie Leclerc; Erica L. Lemire; Lisa LePoidevin; Colin C. Lord; Mark Richard Lovely; Cliffton Roy Luce; Casey Machell; Alexandra Rose MacLeod; Meghan E. Maher; Daniel Lee Manning; Anthony James Marshall; Greg Marston, Jr.; Michael Shaun Martin; Autumn Stephanie Martinez; Birquette Liza Mattote; Sasha Tyler Mattote; Anthony Joseph Matz; Evelyn G. McGrath; Kendal Ashley Melvin; Ryan Tyler Merrill; Arick Steven Miller; Scott H. Miller; Stephen Bradley Miner; Benjamin R. Moffatt; Kevin G. Moore, Jr.; Kaitlin Jane Moran; Kyle Steven Moran; Nickolas Paul Morey; Sarah D. Morrill; Chad Morse; Kevin James Morse; Kaitlin M. Mott; Adnela Muratovi´c; Amela Muratovi´c; Kelly A. Norton; Megan Ryan Noury; Steven M. Noyes; Andrew Paul O'Connor; Patrick Auten O'Donnell; Ryan Francis O'Hara; Matthew B. Paquin; Christopher Sean Parker; Danielle Rae Parry-Wright; Mathew Charles Patterson; Kayla Mae Pearce; Bryce Mitchell Peatman; Danielle Renee Pecor; Sara Lynn Pelkey; Jesse Rafeal Perez; Megan Rose Peterson; William Scott Peterson; Kelsey Anne Pirie; Chad E. Pouliot; Ashley Shannon Quenneville; Adam Alan Rawson; Felicia Lynn Raymond; David George Regan; Patrick Lawrence Reilly; Rebecca S. Richardson; Adam Ripley; Charles Bartholomew Ritzo; Corey Tyler Robbins; Amanda Marie Roberts; Melinda Jean Robinson; Kristina Ross; Kristina Marie Rossi; Kyle B. Rossi; Eric Thomas Rouleau; Freesia Roy; Danielle M. Rubalcaba; Ashley Laura Rueda; Steven James Rupp; Jenna E. Salerno; Neil John Sayers III; Timouthy J. Scoville; Jonathan Michael Seaton; Eric David Seel; Irma Sehi´c; Avery Charles Sherwood; Timothy D. Sichel; Margaret R. Silva; Brent E. Simonds; Sanela Siri´c; Maria E. Skinner; Cynthia Joyce Small; Dylan Bradley Smith; Ian Smith; Joshua Allain Morgane Smith; Nicole Marie Smith; Reba Ann Smith; Tyler Rand Smith; Ashly Margaret Spannbauer; Danielle Marie Spencer; Kathryn Mary Spring; Joshua R. Stewart; Elizabeth Stone; Alexander Edward Stout; Diane J. Supernault; Noah Brandon Tassie; Ian Christopher Tewksbury; Rebecca J. Thibault; Ashley Ann Thygesen; Lindsi Kathryn Tibbitts; Andrew Alfred Trombley; Andria Leslie Trujillo; Jamie Lynn Walker; Luke Christopher Wamsley; Madeline Jane Ward; Kara Elizabeth Warman; Erik Adams Wells; Annette Weydener; Jessica M. Purcell White; and Amanda Wolfe.
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