BRATTLEBORO -- The members of the Brattleboro Union High School Class of 2012 should embrace their opportunities to take on new challenges, but should do so with the open mind of a young Jedi warrior, the class speakers told their schoolmates during the school's graduation ceremony Friday.
The crowd at Natowich Field spilled out of the bleachers and across the lawn as the members of the graduating class received their diplomas in anticipation of all that lies ahead.
A brilliant blue sky and a cool breeze welcomed the class and all of the parents, family members and friends, as a June-green Mount Wantastiquet set the backdrop for the evening.
Class speaker Julian Kai von Wodtke told his classmates that each one of them had the power to make choices that would reverberate throughout their lives.
Von Wodtke acknowledged that there would be challenges and disappointments, but he said it wasn't necessarily how they met those challenges, but how they recovered and moved on beyond them.
"If we don't dwell on the difficult aspects there will be new windows of opportunity," von Wodtke said. "Let's take advantage of it."
Von Wodtke thanked all of the teachers in the high school who worked the four years to welcome the freshmen class in and then see them through to graduation.
And he marveled at the accomplishments of his classmates.
"Follow your passions and you can bring something special to our world," he said.
BUHS Principal Steve Perrin remembered two members of the Class of 2012 who were not walking with their classmates.
Daniel Bliss died in a car accident on Nov. 6, 2011, and fellow classmate Marble Arvidson has been missing since Aug. 27, 2011.
Perrin asked for a moment of silence for the two young men.
Class valedictorian Katherine Dodge Grasso echoed the wisdom of Jedi master, Yoda, and cello master Yo-Yo Ma.
When training Luke Skywalker, Yoda told his young student that he needed to unlearn what he had known from his past.
Grasso said with high school behind them, it was an opportunity to cast aside expectations and guidelines and be open to inspiration and passion.
She then referred to a quote from Yo-Yo Ma, a world class musician, who said the purest music comes from those who play with the abandon of a young student.
Making a connection between Yo-Yo Ma and Yoda, Grasso said that whether the BUHS students were going to try to play cello on a world stage, or aspire to other heights, it was important to retain the wonder one feels at the beginning of the journey.
"Aspire to the state of the beginner," she said. "Break way from what you are supposed to do and you will surprise yourself."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279.