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Cougars sent out into the wild

The over 200 members of ConVal’s class of 2014 head down a variety of paths

  • ConVal senior Rowan Wilson shaking hands and accepting her diploma in front of a cheering audience.
  • Cassandra Daisy, 2014 class valedictorian speaking to the packed gym about the importance of time and enjoying the moment.
  • ConVal senior and Congressional Art Contest winner, McKenzie West was all smiles as she walked up to the podium to recieve her diploma.
  • Sydney Michalak's podium selfie.
  • Left to Right: Levi Clark, Zach Letourneau, and Olivia Thomas laughing at Sydney Michalak's humours speech.
  • Sydney Michalak taking a podium selfie as the kick-off to her speech.
  • ConVal Senior Ben Carne ecstatically accepting his diploma on Saturday at the ConVal High School graduation.

PETERBOROUGH — At 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, more than 200 members of the ConVal graduating class of 2014 flooded the school’s gym, adorned in blue robes. The weather outside the auditorium doors may have been gloomy, but sentiment among the graduates, family, and faculty in attendance was anything but.

Valedictorian Cassandra Daisy’s message: The importance of time and how to cherish the commodity going forward.

“As I stand here today, I’m wishing time would stand still a little bit longer. I know we have been counting down the days until we graduate, but we may regret that it all went by so fast,” said Daisy, who will attend Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., this fall.

For Rowan Coltey-Reeves, time is only going to accelerate following graduation. Coltey-Reeves, 17, will move to San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 1, as part of the National Service Americorps program.

“I’ll be tutoring kids to stay on the right track in order to get their diplomas,” said Coltey-Reeves before the graduation ceremony began.

Coltey-Reeves said she’ll be leaving her parents’ home for her own apartment, something that she has never done before.

“I wanted to get out of the area and I knew I wanted to volunteer. I am a little nervous about going to a city I’ve never been to without my parents,” said Coltey-Reeves.

The 10-month Americorps program will be a far cry from her last four years walking the halls of ConVal, said Coltey-Reeves, who plans on attending Keene State College to study zoology upon returning from San Antonio.

“I feel good and bad about graduating, I’m going to miss all of my friends,” she said.

Following Daisy’s speech, Salutatorian Sydney Michalak took a podium “selfie” before preaching to her classmates about using one’s time wisely and to never stop striving for greatness.

“Fear and anticipation precede anything great,” said Michalak, who will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall.

“Listen to the advice you have learned from parents, teachers, and peers,” Michalak told her fellow graduates.

Listening is a tough thing to do when you don’t understand what a person is saying — a challenge that Elizabeth Cheaney will soon face. Cheaney will enroll at Suffolk University in Boston, but she’ll spend her first two years studying abroad in Madrid.

“I’ll be staying with a host family, studying sociology, crime, and law. But I’m more nervous about the language barrier,” admitted Cheaney in a recent interview.

Cheaney’s host family does not speak English, a challenge she has never faced before.

“I leave August 25th and I am going to miss all of the people that I have become close with in this area,” said Cheaney, who would like to eventually earn a doctorate in forensics.”

Student speaker Montana Schultz was next to address the crowd.

“Every memory is connected to a person and then a place,” said Schultz, who is off to Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. “Memories live on in our hearts. Lets really look at each other and realize that it all goes by so fast.”

Schultz’s classmate, Elektra Thompson, will also be attending college in New York, with a unique major: fashion.

Thompson, 18, will attend Parsons School for Design and Eugene Lang College, where she’ll pursue her dreams of breaking into the fashion industry.

“Its a five-year program between the two schools,” said Thompson. “I want to be a fashion communicator doing photo-shoots, runway shows, and clothing stores.”

Thompson’s extended family lives in England.

“Graduation is kind of bitter sweet, my family is not in the states and I have to work later,” she said.

As usual, students are dispersing in different directions, tackling the “real world” as they see fit following Saturday’s ceremony. Fifty-five graduates will dive into the working world pursuing employment; eight will join the military. The majority of the remaining grads will continue on with higher education, while nine others will take a gap year to think about the next chapter in their lives.

When he spoke, Principal Brian Pickering noted that he has also spent just the last four years at ConVal.

“This will always be a special class for me. We started our journey at ConVal together in 2010,” said Pickering, who does his best to be at the school entrance every morning to welcome students.

“I know my attendance at the front apron wasn’t perfect, but we have had approximately 720 times to say ‘good morning and welcome’ to one another [over the last four years]. This morning, I’d like to make it 721,” he said.

And after reprising their daily welcoming dialogue for the 721st time in front of family and friends, Pickering wished the class thank you and congratulations.

When the graduates enthusiastically tossed their caps in the air to end the ceremony, a special part of Schultz’s speech was validated. As Schultz had told her fellow graduates, “We can now proudly tell people we graduated from ConVal High School.”

Dylan Fisher can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235, or dfisher@ledgertranscript.com.

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