BRATTLEBORO -- The members of the Austine School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing graduating class of 2012 are entering a new phase of their lives, commencement speaker Anne Potter told them during Thursday's graduation ceremony.
With high school work behind them and unknown challenges ahead, Potter said there will be success and failure, frustration and celebration, as they set out on the next phase of their lives.
But Potter, a former Austine teacher who left the school two years ago, reminded the class that while they are leaving one chapter of their lives behind, they will take with them all of the experiences that allowed them to reach this point.
"You've learned in the classroom. You've learned from your parents. You have grown and matured," she told the graduates. "From then to now there have been a lot of changes and experiences and you take all of that with you."
Potter spoke before the six graduates in the class of 2012 received their diplomas.
She compared the graduates to the photos in newspapers that show a property "then and now."
In those photos, Potter said, a house or a piece of land is shown from what it looked like 100 years ago, and then compared with what it looks like today.
Just like the graduates, Potter said those pictures cannot show every change that happened over time.
It is impossible to highlight every renovation or improvement, but each one contributed to how the property
Potter said the graduates, as well, will take with them all of the lessons and advancements; that while they might not show up in every photo, they have nonetheless helped create the people they are today.
"All that you have gained goes with you when you go through that door," she said. "The positive, and the negative, too. Everything that happened to you at Austine goes with you."
The graduation ceremony Thursday opened with a procession of former graduates, with representatives from the class of 1941 anchoring the members of the alumni association who took part.
Class valedictorian Jacob Gadreault recognized all of the teachers, parents, family members and friends who helped him make it through school and reach his potential.
"We've been together for all these years and here we are," Gadreault said to his classmates. "We did not do this alone. We would never be quite where we are today without all of the support."
Gadreault received the Alumni Association Scholarship and the President's Award from Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing President Bert Carter, who said Gadreault was the star of the class for his athletic abilities, his academic abilities and his humility.
Work study awards were presented to David Small and Bryer McDougall.
Lucy Sphar-Blazej was also recognized during the ceremony for her 34 years of working at Austine School.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279.
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