CLARENDON — Seventy-three young people graduated from Mill River Union High School on Wednesday.
“Today is a celebration which marks the first day of the rest of our lives,” said Class of 2019 Valedictorian Ty Lane Thomas John LaVictoire in his speech. “Whether you’re going to college, taking a gap year or joining the workforce, there is a constant among all of us. That constant is the reality of adulthood, the reality of independence.”
He said Mill River is a school where passion and diversity are celebrated.
“Here, an athlete can still be a performer. A singer can still be a scholar. We don’t have cliques or stereotypes, we don’t ostracize, and we don’t deny the passions of others,” he said. “You will find this life skill to be invaluable moving forward. Let this skill hold its place in your arsenal. Go forth into the world and tear down the walls which divide our society. We are the generation of change, and if the future is as beautifully diversified as it is here, we need not fear getting older.”
He quoted Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” saying high school was the best of times and the worst of times, and that he wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
“Take what you’ve learned here, no matter how poorly you remember it, or how insignificant it may seem, combine it with the good, and use it to grow,” said LaVictoire. “Whether you notice it or not, many of you have already done this. The scared, awkward freshmen I began high school with are gone. Before me sits a crowd of men and women bold and brazen, experienced and sophisticated. I am confident that the Class of 2019 will move past this day and prosper. Be bold, be different and be yourselves.”
Salutatorian Logan David Younce, in his speech, ruminated on what it means to be a good person.
He said he thought a great deal about the subject while writing an essay for a college application.
“After a lot of deliberating, I eventually settled on the fact that there aren’t really any actions or habits that make a person ‘good.’ At least, not anything that can be universally considered good, since plenty of people have plenty of different contradicting values, which makes the concept of good too hard to nail down,” he said.
“So, mid-essay, I decide to abandon writing about what is ‘good’ and opt instead to go with what I believe can be considered by just about everyone to be ‘admirable,’” he said. “After a bit more deliberation, I decided that a good person is, first, convicted. No matter your beliefs, whether you’re gun-life or anti-gun, whether you’re for or against a certain orange president, what matters is that you are convicted and don’t easily surrender what you believe in.”
He said he believes a good person is someone who takes the initiative to help others.
Grace Louise Gilman, student building leader, said it’s been an eventful time “at the Mill.”
“We’ve gone through it all together, every embarrassing moment, sad occasions, our failures and successes,” she said, asking her classmates to remember the good times, and “to celebrate all the cherished memories that we share together, because high school really is only the beginning.”
She closed on the theme of adulthood.
“A significant part of adulting is to move on, to remember the past but not dwell in it,” she said. “This year, especially, we had some growing pains. Friendships change, relationships ended, but all of that is a part of life. Because with challenges comes the opportunity to grow, to make new friends and start new relationships.”
Mill River Principal Tyler Weideman said this was also his “senior year” at the school, though he’s got many more years to go. Weideman said it was his first year at the school when he welcomed the Class of 2019 as freshmen, and he’s pleased to bid them farewell as graduating seniors four years later.
Several of the graduates plan to attend college.
McKenna Ludden, of Clarendon, said she plans to attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to major in, but I’m going to do the pre-med track,” she said. “I’ve thought about getting into the forensics aspect of it, so I might minor in forensics. I’m not sure yet.”
Eoin Mason, of Clarendon, said he plans to attend Paul Smith’s College in New York, to study arborculture and landscape management.
He attended Stafford Technical Center in Rutland.