WESTMINSTER -- As quickly as one journey ends, another begins.
Seventy-nine young people said good-bye to familiarity and routine and set off to start the next chapter of their lives Thursday, marking the occasion by receiving their high school diplomas in front of their friends and family members at the Bellows Falls Union High School graduation ceremony.
Seven graduating seniors took the podium to address the audience that filled the school's auditorium and congratulated their classmates on completing their high school careers.
Valedictorian James Morton did his best to sum up the past 12 years in just 10 minutes and recalled with great fondness class trips, sports practices and late nights he spent as a Terrier. But he was quick to remind all his classmates that while they should cherish all the memories they have, they should always embrace the future.
"Yesterday is today's memory, but tomorrow is today's dream. My dad once told me that dreaming is important, but only if it leads to planning. Wishing will get you nowhere, but together, dreaming and planning are unstoppable," he said, donned in his purple graduation gown. "I know we all have dreams, and Class of 2013, I urge you to make those dreams come true, for time is a tricky thing. We may think that each one of those seconds that ticks by on the clock is the same, but they're not."
Morton went on to quote one of his favorite Greek proverbs.
"Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in," he said.
Class Treasurer Brittany Moyna compared high school to her experience on the track team. She told everyone about the exhilarating moment at the starting point and the endurance needed to cross the finish line. She said life in high school is a hurdle in and of itself and each student learns to accept the challenge, instead of complaining of its difficulty.
Class Secretary Denise Kingsbury related the previous four years of her life like any actress would.
"Throughout high school, I've spent a lot of time on the stage. I've acted in the fall plays, spring musicals, murder mysteries and one-act plays. ... My time involved in the drama club has given me the opportunity to not only realize who I am, but to also realize that life itself is a stage," she said. "The time we've spent in high school has been a series of rehearsals, giving us the chance to discover ourselves. We've used our four years here rehearsing for our biggest performance, the rest of our lives."
She mentioned how she and her classmates have learned their lines and formulas and have found their own costumes and styles. She said graduation is opening night and it is time for the Class of 2013 to take the stage.
Class President Stewart Shaughnessy -- who will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., with dreams of becoming a pilot -- said the fellow teenagers sitting in front of him are not just classmates, but family.
"We do everything together, and I hope that never changes. Family sticks together through anything and everything; we accept the good with the bad," he said. "Wherever we go, we will look back on this school, our families, and each other and cherish all the good times we've had."
He also gave a shout-out to his mother, Stacey, who he said has been the secretary of the past three schools he has attended since elementary school.
"Sorry, Mom -- one of the main reasons I chose Embry-Riddle as my choice of colleges was because all the secretary spots are full," he said to a roar of laughter and applause.
Before Principal Christopher Hodsden, Assistant Principal John Broadley and BFUHS Board of Directors Chairman David Clark handed out the diplomas, Hodsden spoke to the crowd and wanted to relay one quick statistic. He said there no Ds or Fs on any student's transcript.
"Everything is a ‘C' or above," he said. "So, Class of 2013, be very proud of yourselves."
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.