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‘Just waiting to change the world’

CONVAL: Senior class remembered for positive attitude, and the best prank a principal could ask for

  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors walk down the stairs leading into the school gymnasium at the start of Saturday's graduation ceremony.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Alyse Fusco, left, and Ashleigh Jalbert march in at ConVal's graduation ceremony, followed by Sabina Pieterse and other members of the class of 2013. The school awarded degrees to 172 seniors.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Valedictorian Caroline Trowbridge, left, and her friend Chloe Kipka march in together at ConVal's graduation ceremony on Saturday<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Ryan Leonard, center, and fellow seniors at ConVal High School prepare to graduate on Saturday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Ryan Leonard leaves the stage after pickup up his ConVal diploma.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • ConVal seniors graduated Saturday in the school's newly renovated gymnasium<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

‘When I am asked, ‘Where did you graduate from high school?’ I will proudly respond ‘I graduated from ConVal.’ And I believe every other senior here will too. ConVal’s culture has been renewed and I am excited to see what the next class picks up where we have left off.”

Those were the words of Ryan Shows, as he welcomed his fellow seniors, parents and family, and teachers and other staff members to ConVal High School’s graduation ceremony, held Saturday morning in the school’s newly renovated gymnasium. One hundred and seventy-two seniors received ConVal degrees and 23 people graduated from ConVal’s adult diploma program.

The theme of ConVal pride that Shows introduced resonated throughout the morning, as student and faculty speakers described the strengths of the school community.

“We’ve been bonding for the last four years,” said valedictorian Caroline Trowbridge in her speech. “We formed friendships in classes that we loved, or dreaded.... No one ever has to stick to the status quo at ConVal. Each of us is a complex individual who is known for more than one quality.”

Trowbridge reminded her classmates that participating in their communities will take more effort now that they are leaving ConVal.’

“In the workplace, we won’t have to cram around a cafeteria table at lunch. In the towns and cities we’ll live in, no one will force us to participate in roadside cleanup, attend the Memorial Day parade, or join a theater production. But let’s make the effort, so that we can continue to feel the same sense of pride, solidarity and friendship we feel on this special day.”

Trowbridge was honored with the faculty award, the only individual recognition presented on graduation day.

“It’s an inside joke that she is often mistaken for a teacher,” said ConVal teacher Jan Farringon about Trowbridge, describing her as instrumental in developing a strong student council and advocating strongly on issues.

“It’s because of her that we have a girls hockey team now at ConVal,” Farrington said. “She’s really left a legacy.”

ConVal Principal Brian Pickering described this year’s senior prank, one of the most unusual he’d ever seen. When Pickering arrived at school at little before 7 a.m. on a recent morning, he found a circle of cars in the center of the parking lot, with enthusiastic seniors inside playing volleyball, while tailgating classmates cooked steak, eggs and bacon.

“They made me feel welcome, too. It was amazing,” Pickering said. “Cheers galore as I drove by and I thought to myself, ‘If you can’t beat the class of 2013 senior prank, join them.’ And there we were, playing volleyball, at 6:45 a.m., together in the school parking lot.”

Pickering said the game symbolizes the attitude of the entire class.

“During your four years you were accepting of differences, patient and grateful,” he told the seniors. “You were not perfect, but you were even great about not being perfect, by picking up and modeling our ‘12:01 is a new day’ philosophy.’ So the message: Stay welcoming and stay kind. It really is what life is all about.”

Student speaker Haley Webber drew laughter as she told of her class’s battle with senioritis.

“Symptoms include laziness, an overexcessive wearing of yoga pants, athletic clothes and sweatshirts,” Webber said. “It also features a lack of studying, repeated absence and a generally dismissive attitude.”

Graduation is the only remedy, Webber said.

“So ConVal’s Class of 2013, congratulations. You are finally cured.”

Senior Benjamin Rautio gave the farewell address at the end of the ceremony.

“I hope you never have to work a day in your life,” Rautio told his classmates. “Yes, you may have a job, but if you love your job and look forward to going to it each and every day then you do not have work, you have passion and the drive to do something you love.

Rautio said people who have made a difference in the world were once just like the ConVal senior class, “scared and excited about the next step, just waiting to change the world.” The graduates now have the opportunity to expand their horizons.

“Make a your life something worth living,” Rautio concluded. “And please, for my sake and yours, try to never, quote unquote, work a day in your life.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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