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Compassionate group graduates from WHS

Journal Opinion of Bradford, Vermont

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WOODS VILLE—"To the class of 2015, whatever you do in life, make it brilliant," graduating Woodsville High School senior Christopher Charles said during his opening speech at the June 13 graduation ceremony. It was a picture-perfect day, with the sun shining brightly on the graduating seniors as they marched across King's Plain to take their places on the stage.

Parents, friends and classmates couldn't help but laugh at the memories Charles shared of the 13-year journey that was coming to a close.

"For instance, on our Boston college trip after being left to stand in the rain... we were walking from Quincy Market on our way back to the hotel when someone yelled, 'It's raining men!' and40 people erupted with, 'Hallelujah!'"he recalled.

Charles described his classmates as individuals who possess courage, drive, compassion and intellect.

"Because of these attributes, I am a proud member of this graduating class," he concluded.

In her Salutatory address, Laura Rutherford spoke of kindness, a quality she said she values most.

"I would bet that having a benevolent state of mind would push you through the obstacles you meet much faster than if you were unkind," she said. "Participating in acts of kindness opens us up to the wonders of being human. If each of us were to display kindness to those around us, spread it and share it, you would be amazed at how much more enjoyable life could become."

Rutherford challenged her classmates to "do something kind today, tomorrow, and each day until you run out of days."

"I hope to see you again 20, 30, 40 years from now. I hope you will tell me you lived a marvelous life in the light of kindness," she said in closing.

Valedictorian Emily French reflected upon the significance of the diploma the graduates were about to receive.

"Everyone on this stage has earned one of the most valuable things in their lives thus far. The high school diploma," she said. "This is a rare day. Unlike most days, this is a day when the entire class comes together for a common jubilation."

French left her class with a quote from Henry Ford, whose invention of the car is "the single most important thing to the dreams of teenagers in America."

"Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right," she quoted, adding in her own words, "Even during the hard times, when you are positive beyond any doubt that you can't, change your mind. You can."

WHS guidance counselor Shauna Kimball addressed the class, saying, "It has been an honor to have had the privilege to serve these students for the past four years. They are caring young men and women."

She said their compassion was evident at Class Night, held earlier in the week, when they presented guidance counselor Susan Clark with a check for $ 1,500 to help with the costs of her cancer treatments. Kimball read a note of thanks from

Clark who wrote, "It was an unexpected honor that the class had awarded its class gift to me. I am still reeling from this show of compassion." '

Beginning the awards portion of the ceremony, Kimball presented the Alumni Attainment Award, one of the oldest and most prestigious awards, to Michael Lamarre.

Mike Lavoie presented the Lavoie Family Scholarship, created to support a student who intended to pursue a technical or vocational area of study, to Ryan May.

The Ross Wood Post #20 American Legion scholarship for Citizenship was given to Laura Rutherford and Lottie Page. Representing the American Legion Auxiliary Unit Citizenship Award, Eleanor Leach gave the award of a $500 scholarship to Laura Rutherford, and an award for citizenship to Elizabeth Hilliard.

Mike Conrad of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #5245 presented awards to Michael Lamarre and Laura Rutherford for their demonstration of pride and respect towards the American Flag.

Rutherford also received the Squadron 20 Sons of the American Legion scholarship, which was handed to her by her father, Matthew Rutherford.

Seven students received scholarships from the Cohase Lions Club: Samantha Thurston, Elizabeth Stoddard, Michael Lamarre, Christopher Charles, Laura Rutherford, Lottie Page and Kayleigh Clough. Past graduate Brian Fenn also received an award. Representing the Woodsville Area Booster Club, Lorie-Ann Noyes and Clint Brake presented awards to five student athletes: Dan Abrahamson, Kayleigh Clough, Christopher Charles, Samantha Thurston and Lottie Page.

Noyes and Brake also presented the Donald R. Evans award of $1,000 each to Laura Rutherford and Jacob Pushee.

The Haverhill Education Association Scholarship for future educators went to Michael Lamarre.

Michael Marro received the Paul P. Tucker Memorial Award, which is given each year to a student intent on pursuing higher education.

"We were very impressed with these four applicants," Maryanne Aldrich said as she presented the Elizabeth M. Barry award to Brittany Derrington, Christopher Charles, Jacob Pushee and Samantha Thurston.

Before presenting her with the WHS Class of 1934 Marjorie Tilton Chamberlin Award, Kimball called Samantha Thurston forward and spoke of her many talents. "Sam is known as a hardworking student and athlete by her peers and the staff. Her dream of a future in healthcare is what attracted [Chamberlin's] daughters to her," Kimball said, adding that her "compassionate, gentle manner" will serve her well in her studies at Plymouth State University.

Linda Lauer, of the Pine Grove Grange in Bath said the next award was in honor of, Christine Woods, "a longtime member of the grange interested in ensuring that students will go on and do great things." The Christine Woods Merit Award went to Laura Rutherford and Paige Martin.

Reginald Ball, Elizabeth Stoddard, Ariel Hood, Emily French, Tristan Boutin, Cheyanne Dunnells, Michael Lamarre and Jacob Pushee were recipients of the Frank and Olive Gilman Scholarship Foundation awards.

Following the presentation of diplomas by Haverhill Cooperative School Board Chair Richard Guy and Vice chair Maryanne Aldrich, senior Michael Lamarre delivered the closing speech.

"As many of you know, I am going to be an elementary school teacher. Although I have many things to teach children, I believe there are endless amounts of things to be learned from them," Lamarre said.

Among those things, Lamarre said there are four things he has learned from children.

"I encourage everyone to stay positive, keep it simple, worry less and look forward. I have learned that by doing these four things, my fife has changed for the better, and yours can too."

Marianne Farr may be contacted at

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Original Publication Date: June 17, 2015

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