Twin Valley graduates 34 students

WHITINGHAM — The enthusiasm was contagious at Twin Valley Middle/High School's graduation on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Brown, the school's physical education teacher, jumped off the stage to give the 34 students who made up the Class of 2018 high fives as the "Rocky" theme song segued into Queen's "We Will Rock You" with attendees clapping along and seniors dancing from their seats.

"Please join me in applauding these amazing people," he said before tearing off his robe. "This is a big day today."

Grace Rizio, salutatorian, said she has been so blessed to watch her fellow seniors grow up.

"We will accomplish amazing things," she told them from the podium. "We will accomplish amazing things because that's just what we do."

Tatyanna Bowman, valedictorian, said Twin Valley welcomed her with open arms and made her start enjoying school. She said she "met so many great friends here."

"As I look toward the future, I can only think of the great adventures — not just for me, but my classmates, too," she said.

Bowman suggested her fellow classmates remember to live in the moment and discover new things.

Jonathon Newton, a graduating senior, moved to the area from upstate New York this school year. But that did not diminish his regard for Twin Valley.

"So far, it's been great," he told the Reformer.

Newton said the students and teachers at Twin Valley are nice. He also found it easier to get help with questions on his schoolwork. He is thinking about going to Vermont Technical College.

Graduating senior Melanie Dow attended Twin Valley for her freshman and sophomore years then transferred to the Windham Regional Career Center in Brattleboro for the last two years. She enjoyed the ability to travel to California and New Orleans through the center's programming.

"I met high-up business people," she told the Reformer. "It was amazing."

By going to both schools, Dow said, she has twice as many friends. She expects to stay in touch with at least a couple of close friends from Twin Valley as she heads to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.

Dow plans to study business administration.

"I'm really excited," she told the Reformer. "It's a friendly campus. It's just really accepting and I love it."

Tyler Janovsky, a fellow graduating senior, said he probably has a few memories he will remember. He counted all of his classmates among his friends.

Janovsky is going to work in welding.

"It's pretty fun," he told the Reformer.

Graduating senior Kimberley Betit is going to Community College of Vermont to study art and teaching. She told the Reformer she has lots of memories at Twin Valley.

"It's pretty cool," she said of graduating.

Principal Thomas Fitzgerald told the graduates they will be "a great success."

"We are certain you will make your mark in the world," he said. "We would like you to come back. We will miss you."

During his speech, Brown told the graduates he thought he had it all figured out when he was their age.

"As it turns out," he said, "this couldn't be further from the truth."

Brown solicited advice from two members of the audience, telling graduates to decide which tips to take and which to discard.

"You don't know everything, and shut up and listen," one attendee offered.

Another attendee said, "Floss your teeth, wear sunblock and don't use credit cards."

Brown told graduates to exercise for one hour a day. And he encouraged them to "be relentless" in their efforts — a phrase that is familiar to students at the school.

"Ball is life," Brown later added while holding a basketball. "Your passion may not be ball. But whatever it is, make sure to include it in your life."

During his speech, social studies teacher Scott Salway had graduates point to people who helped them reach the milestone they were celebrating on Saturday. He urged them to clap or say, "I love you."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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