WESTMINSTER — Saturday, June 11, was graduation day at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, an important and bittersweet milestone for the sixteen 8th grade graduates.
Graduation proceedings began with William Abbott, President of the Board welcoming all and congratulating the students. Houseparent Clint Plante gave the invocation and the benediction. Riley Daniels gave a powerful welcoming salutation, touching on his own personal experience and growth process. Daniels gave credit to houseparent, Bill McHugh, for his support and positive influence.
Several students and alumni received one or more prizes from the categories of awards which included: the Massachusetts Board of Directors, Alumni Association, Woodhull Music, and Maiola Athletic Awards. Awards presented by Executive Director Steve Harrison included the Eleanor Ward Achievement to Hanna Czyzewski, John P. Barry & Christopher W. Barry Award to Zachary Corban, 7th grade, W.I. Mayo Memorial to Riley Daniels, Ralph & Ruby Lerche Scholarship to Lillian Cole, Thomas G. Fahner Scholarship to Gabrielle Knight, Class of 2010 and Taylor Maynard, Class of 2012, and the Suitcase Award to Riley Daniels and Talia Griffin.
Kimberly Judd, Valedictorian, talked about her own personal journey, recalling that she experienced an emerging sense of freedom and acceptance at Kurn Hattin due to staff members who helped her find the best methods of learning and self-expression to fit her as an individual. She described how she gradually developed trust in her peers over time, and established new friendships. Judd, of Westminster, thanked the many teachers and staff who made such a difference in her life, and her parents for being with her "every step of the way."
"Now it's time to do this again," said Judd. "I have no clue what to expect at my high school or of the students and teachers. I'll be scared again, but I'll be more open this time."
Diplomas were then presented by William Abbott and Noah Noyes. After graduating, many of the students stay on campus for the summer program, and then will rejoin their families and attend their local high schools in the fall. Others will move on to attend other private residential schools with a similar mission.
Congratulations to The Kurn Hattin Class of 2016: Anna Bryan, White River Junction; Alista Charbonneau, Manchester, N.H.; Lillian Cole, Lyndonville; Marquell Collins-Williams, Bloomfield, Conn.; Hanna Czyzewski, Huntington; Riley Daniels, Springfield; Jaykob Fagans, Springfield; Jessica Gibson, Montpelier; Talia Griffin, New York, N.Y.; Evan Hall, Springfield; Lydia Jones, Putney; Kimberly Judd, Westminster; Paige Rourke, Keene, N.H.; Liam Snowden, Marlborough, N.H.; Amity Stockwell, Putney; and James White, Brattleboro.