SUNAPEE — Although a modified commencement ceremony that forced graduates to remain six feet apart in a lot at the base of Mount Sunapee might be how many people define Sunapee Middle High School’s 2020 graduation, make no mistake that the students' perseverance was at the heart of Friday evening’s proceedings in which 36 seniors received their diplomas.
Valedictorian Tess Palin opened her addresses by detailing her initial experiences moving to Sunapee, a small town that in her eyes is a benefit to students and the community.
“Many may view our small class size as a disadvantage, but it is our size that has allowed our connection to become so strong over the years,” said Palin to a crowd of fellow classmates and family members alongside graduation-themed vehicles. “Growing up together, we were able to share numerous experiences and traditions which created an exceedingly close bond among us.”
Palin also pointed out the resilience of her colleagues to continue their collective passions while traversing the unknowns due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“On Monday, March 16, the first day we were out of school due to the coronavirus, many of us realized that we may have taken for granted our close connection and ample time spent together,” Palin said. “In the blink of an eye, all of the memorable “Senior Spring” moments we had been eagerly awaiting to experience together were gone. However, even in the face of our heartbreak, we did not let these setbacks endanger our class’s connection… This challenging experience has only further assured me of the strength of this family, as we can not be phased by mere physical separation.”
This year’s valedictorian closed her speech by further highlighting how the relationships made over the past 13 years will continue on into the future.
“As we pursue our own paths ranging from careers in anti-terrorism to environmental sustainability, the lives we will lead will certianly stray further and further from the ones we are leaving behind here today,” Palin said. “Yet we must remember that it was never simply a grade number, or a school, or a town that made us a family — it was our connection. So when you get where you’re going, don’t forget to look back. This family will always be here waiting.”
Salutatorian Elizabeth Nichols featured a touch of honesty at the outset of her speech in regards to the once promised experiences looked forward to by the entire class for the past 6,746 days being taken away by the global pandemic.
“I was supposed to be trying to find the time to cram in writing this speech between prom, baseball games, softball games, field day, the last spirit week, class trip and all of the events that normally come with senior spring,” Nichols said. “But instead, I had all the time in the world to write and for some reason, my page remained blank.”
But, as the old saying goes, there is a reason for everything.
“If anything, what this has taught our class, the Class of 2020, is to be grateful. We will never again take for granted the small moments, knowing they may be some of our best or last. We will embrace others despite their differences, like this community has done for our class. We will face adversity head on, persevering because we know that there is light on the other side and that we will come out stronger.
Nichols continued: “There has never been a class more prepared and more eager to jump into our futures than this one.”
Nichols ended by expressing the importance of being grateful for what they have and their time spent in Sunapee.
“We are thankful for the good and the bad and everything in between, because each moment we’ve experienced together and every person we’ve met has shaped us into the young adults here today,” Nichols said. “We may physically be leaving this town, but it will forever hold a special place in our hearts.”
DAR good citizen Jordan Chappell presented this year's commencement welcome address.
During the history portion of the ceremony, senior Olivia Johnson received a special message from professional wrestler John Cena wishing her all the best on this immensely special day.
Immediately following the ceremony, students and their families were greeted to a parade similar to what a championship team may expect after winning the big game. Although there was no real game to play, this year's Sunapee Middle High School Class of 2020 displayed all the characteristics: bravery, courage, teamwork and the instinct to always find hope even in the darkest of times.
Jordan Chappell, $250, Alice Josephs Memorial Scholarship.
Silvia Dalton, $500, Bonnie Flint Memorial.
Tess Palin, $500, Captain Dave Hargbol Memorial.
Zach Belisle, $250, Charles K. Flint Memorial.
Eve Robida, $1,000, Claremont Kiwanis Charities.
Haley Hathorn, $250, David & Agnes Sherburne Memorial.
Anthony Borelli, $1,000, Gerard T. Tracey Scholarship.
Ellie Frederick, $350, Granite State Conference Scholarship.
Jordan Chappell, $300, Herb Ripley Memorial.
Michael Mullen, $250, Herbert O. Williams Memorial.
Madison Giberson, $1,000, Jake Maxfield Literacy Connection Scholarship.
Darren Hulton, $250, John M. and Della U. Emerson Scholarship.
Zach Bourque, $500, John P. Molloy Memorial.
Skylar Hathorn, $100, Knights of Pythias Scholarship.
Jordan Chappell and Eva Robida, $500 each, Lake Sunapee United Methodist Church Meacham Scholarship.
Riley Balch and Maddie Blewitt, $500 each, Lt. Col. Raymond Patrick Smith Memorial Scholarship.
Cameron Summerton, $2,000, Mary Felicia Falzarano Scholarship.
Quinn Fair and Skylar Hathorn, $1,000 each, Mary Felicia Falzarano Scholarship.
Maddie Blewitt, Emily Devore, Ellie Frederick, Katherine Frederick, Ashley Heino, and Tess Palin, $500 each, Mary Felicia Falzarano Scholarship.
Kevin Nolan, $500, Michael & Gaila Kennedy Scholarship.
Robert Carney, $500, Michael Nemcovich Memorial.
Ellie Frederick, $50, Murvin A. Bailey Award.
Maddie Blewitt, Jordan Chappell, Austin Davis, Ellie Frederick, Haley Hathorn, Skylar Hathorn, Tess Palin and Eve Robida, $1,000 each. New London Rotary Club Scholarship.
Skylar Hathorn, $250, New London Rotary Club Service Above Self Award.
Riley Balch, $500, Prospect Hill Antiques Scholarship.
Tess Palin, $5,000, Red River Charitable Foundation Scholarship.
Amita Ayer, Ellie Frederick, Sarah Frederick, Madison Giberson, Abby Hanson, Skylar Hathorn, Elizabeth Nichols and Tess Palin, $3,500 each, Robert & Joyce Oberkotter Family Foundations Scholarship.
Tess Palin, $250, Service Club Red Cross Scholarship.
Austin Davis and Madison Giberson, $1,000 each, Sonny M. Armstrong.
Elizabeth Nichols, $1,000, Sugar River Bank Scholarship.
Riley Balch, Quinn Fair, Elizabeth Frederick, and Tess Palin, $250 each, Sunapee Booster Club.
Austin Davis, $250, Sunapee Booster Club- Bonnie Flint Award.
Skylar Hathorn and Tess Palin, $500 each, Sunapee Chapter of the National Honor Society.
Jordan Chappell and Skylar Hathorn, $500 each, Sunapee Lions Club Chuck Goyette Scholarship.
Skylar Hathorn and Tess Palin, $1,000 each, Sunapee Seniors Thrift Shop.
Maddie Blewitt, Alexa Santti, Taylor Santti, and Cameron Summerton, $500 each, Sunapee Seniors Thrift Shop.
Ellie Frederick, Madison Giberson, Elizabeth Nichols and Tess Palin, $500 each, Sunapee Teachers Association.
Ellie Frederick, Skylar Hathorn, and Tess Palin, $500 each, The SMHS Honeybee Club Scholarship.
Jordan Chappell, Austin Davis, and Skylar Hathorn. $500 each, The Sunapee Police Benevolent Association Biff Ranney Memorial Scholarship.
Krystian Falleur, $1,000, Tom & Judy Tuohy Memorial.
Class of 2020
Amita Ayer — New Hampshire Technical Institute
Walter Balch — New Hampshire Technical Institute
Zachary Belisle — New Hampshire Technical Institute
Madeline Blewitt — University of New Hampshire
Anthony Borelli — West Virginia University
Zackary Bourque — Endicott College
Robert Carney — Manchester Community College
Jordan Chappell — Endicott College
Cayelin Currier — Southern New Hampshire University
Silvia Dalton — University of Utah
Austin Davis — Norwich University
Quinlan Fair — University of New Hampshire
Krystian Falleur — University of Arkansas — Fort Smith
Elizabeth Frederick — University of New Haven
Sarah Frederick — Santa Fe College
Madison Giberson — University of Massachusetts — Amherst
Abby Hanson — Radford University
Haley Hathorn — Colby-Sawyer College
Skylar Hathorn — Suffolk University
Darren Hulton — Southern New Hampshire University
Olivia Johnson — Workforce
Michael Mullen — Keene State College
Elizabeth Nichols — University of New Hampshire
Kevin Nolan — West Virginia University
Sean O’Mara — Southern New Hampshire University
Tess Palin — Syracuse University
Joel Rechisky — Workforce
Eve Robida — West Virginia University
Junniel Rodriguez Hernandez — University of Puerto Rico
Alexa Santti — University of New Hampshire
Jacob Sarnevitz — California Lutheran University
Cameron Summerton — New Hampshire Technical Institute
Sierra Tiffany — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Ethan Trevino — University of Michigan — Dearborn
Maria Villarreal — United States Air Force
Keryonna Wood — River Valley Community College