PETERBOROUGH — Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders and Principal Heather McKillop are pleased to announce the graduation of 180 students from ConVal Regional High School.
On Friday, June 11 the graduation ceremony was held on the school’s stadium field.
Two students who spoke together, Brigham Boice and Jason Bergeron, reflected on a moment in history that mirrors their own experiences finishing high school amid a pandemic.
“The Peterborough High School closed its doors in October of 1918 due to the oncoming influenza pandemic. The lives of Peterborough students were disrupted in a moment,” said Boice. “Barred from classrooms, sports, and friends — they too struggled through their own quarantine.”
Added Bergeron, “What do we learn from the struggles of the Lost Generation, a generation following the end of the First World War? We learn that we are not alone. At times we might feel the opposite. We may feel as if we are the first to face monotony, isolation, anxiety and great societal change. From past generations, we can see how they too survived through despair, unease and the challenges we have and are yet to face.”
In order to accommodate COVID-19 screening protocols, graduates and guests arrived to the event on a staggered schedule. Following the student march into the ceremony, graduates were seated with their families.
“Each member of the class of 2021 was unique. Celebrate your uniqueness. Be proud of it. Release the real you to the world. The world needs you.
So wherever you are off to, and wherever you go, remember you have the skills necessary to keep moving forward,” said Principal McKillop. “You will forever be a ConVal Cougar. I am so honored to have shared a small part of your journey and wish you the very best in all you do. Congratulations to my first class, the Class of 2021.”
“Congratulations to the Class of 2021. You did it,” said Superintendent Rizzo Saunders. “Whatever your next step may be, I wish you the best of luck. I am confident that you all will do great things.”
The ceremony included a welcome address from Class President Nathaniel Wilson and Principal McKillop, as well as speeches from the valedictorian and salutatorian.
“I look out towards my peers, seeing these familiar faces that I have known and enjoyed for the past 4 years. With all the experiences we have gone through together, I know that this class will do great things. When we face adversity, we will not shy away. We will not cower and be afraid,” said Wilson. “We will stand up to the world, and fight for our beliefs. We will be pushed over, knocked down, overseen. But I know, no matter how many times we fall, we will always get back up and with this mentality, we can accomplish anything.”
The Class of 2021 Valedictorian is Madilyn Cilley. Cilley plans to attend the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University in the fall to study dance. During her time at ConVal, Cilley served as a peer tutor, mentor and member of the ConVal for Climate club. She is currently dancing with the Southern NH Dance Theater in the pre-professional program.
“Though we have only been alive for 17 or 18 years, there are still things we can gain from our own experiences. I’ve determined that everything is easier when the motivation behind it is fueled with love and passion. What matters in life isn’t what you do, but how and why you do it, and that you do something,” said Cilley. “It’s now our responsibility to deduce what is valuable and significant. This is our time to explore who we’ve become and who we’re going to be, but also to recognize the people who have helped us get here.”
The Class of 2021 Salutatorian is Aria Frehner. Frehner plans to attend Mount Holyoke College in the fall to study environmental science and dance. During her time at ConVal, Frehner served as president of ConVal’s National Honor Society and as a member of the Norway Pond Junior Minstrels. She is also a talented dancer and beekeeper.
“Thank you to my friends who made school fun. Thank you to my family for everything,” said Frehner. “Thank you to the health and wellness teachers for keeping us from sitting on our butts all day, to the world language teachers for widening our perspective on the world, to the English teachers for helping us effectively communicate not only in essays but in life, to the math teachers for the problem-solving skills, to the history teachers for making sure we don’t repeat past mistakes, to the science teachers for pushing us to focus on issues bigger than ourselves, and last but not least, to all the art teachers for supporting us and keeping ConVal’s soul alive and joyful.”
The event concluded with the conferring of diplomas and a farewell address by Class Vice President David MacKay.
“Don’t think of today as the conclusion to your time here at ConVal, rather, embrace it as an introduction to whatever is coming next. Accounting for the fact that today is a culmination of your education thus far, acknowledge that there is much more to look forward to,” said MacKay. “Those of you going to college get to experience a more difficult and wildly expensive version of the past four years. Those of you getting jobs or joining the military get to begin your careers and start shaping the life you want to live. Whatever you choose to do, there will always be something greater in the future.”
For the latest updates, visit the district’s website here.