HINSDALE, N.H. -- At the graduation ceremony at Hinsdale High School Saturday, Class of 2014 Salutatorian Abigail Haskins noted that she and some of her classmates have been together since kindergarten.
She admitted to facing some challenges early on in her high school career, and said from those first years she wanted to be able to speak to the class on graduation day.
Saturday morning in Hinsdale, with the cloudy sky giving way to sun during the outdoor ceremony, Haskins encouraged her classmates not to fear failure.
"You might fail, and that's definitely OK," Haskins said. "Everyone here has failed at least once. But we get back up and we fight as hard as we can. If you want something bad enough there's nothing that can ever get in your way if you try your hardest."
The Hinsdale High School Class of 2014 graduated 35 seniors Saturday.
During her speech Haskins looked over her class and told them to take what they learned and try to build on it.
"We've learned the basic skills to live life," she said. "Now we need to use those skills to branch out and develop them into something bigger."
Haskins recognized the many choices that her classmates will face in the coming days, months and years.
She said she was unsure about part of her future and she reassured the class that it was all right to have doubts.
"I just want to say, 'That's OK,'" she said. "I want you all to be able to accept where you are right now. There's a huge world out there and I don't want it to intimidate us. You only get one shot at life. Do the things you really want. Live."
The class chose Leo Marshall, a substitute teacher in the Hinsdale school system, to give the commencement speech Saturday.
Echoing the words of Haskins, Marshall also told the class to accept the fact that choices, obstacles and challenges will confront them as they move forward.
"Success is not defined by how you perform when everything is going really well," Marshall said. "It's so simplistic when things are working right.
Marshall told a few stories about growing up as a short person, and about being told more than once that he could not compete because of his size.
All of those experiences, he said, taught him a lesson of some kind which ultimately made him a stronger person in the end.
"Every experience you have in life, is a constant learning experience," Marshall said. "Learn from each one."
And he cautioned the class from having those challenges get in the way of what they really had to do.
"It's constantly changing. Everything changes," he said. "Don't get stuck in the middle of it. You've got to adapt to it. To be successful you must adapt to the change."
Colleen Bedaw gave the Honor Essay, but before she did she took a selfie with the class, saying it was the best way for the class to capture the moment.
Bedaw said many of the students in the graduating class had some rough experiences over the past few years
"It was a hard year and some of us never thought we'd make it," she said. "Here's to finding where we're going, but never forgetting where we came from."
Class Valedictorian Taryn Fisk thanked the teachers, coaches, friends and family members who helped her succeed during her time at Hinsdale High School.
She said she learned lessons about herself in the classroom and on the track, where she ran for the Hinsdale team.
"One of the most important lessons is that even one second can make a great impact on the outcome of your race, and the only way to improve is to work hard," Fisk said. "Everything you do will, in one way of the other, impact your life and your future. Each of you will need to push yourself and do the work you need to do, and make choices that will better your future. Even when you are scared or unsure of the outcome remember to push yourself and you'll find your way."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.