By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter
YOLO. “You Only Live Once,” the motto of rapper Drake, was the anthem of the Tantasqua Regional High School (TRHS) Class of 2012 during commencement June 3 in the TRHS field house. It was a fitting anthem for a commencement with the theme of “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us,” by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Academic Honor Student Ryan Little spoke about YOLO, and all the ways that can be applied to a graduate’s life. He also spoke about those that helped him and his fellow graduates get through their school years, including what he called “amazing faculty,” his family and his friends.
“Thank you to my parents who taught me that who I am is more important than what I am,” Little said. “…Thank you to my friends who taught me confidence, determination and that it’s always funny when someone gets hurt.”
Class President Alyx Darger spoke about the effect last spring’s tornado had on her class as a whole. She told the audience about the school’s collection of items like food, clothing, blankets and more for those affected and how in just 36 hours, they had to turn away donations because they had run out of room to store them.
“Over the last 365 days, the character of the class has been exposed,” she said. “We are much more cohesive now as a result of the destruction. I am confident the class will continue to make a positive impact on the world.”
Technical Honor Student Maleek Wedderburn couldn’t believe the day was here.
“Graduation was always someone else’s day, college was someone else’s school and career was someone else’s life,” he said.
He also referenced YOLO, and encouraged graduates to treasure their support systems, put all of their effort into everything they do and to instill kindness into the heart of a stranger. He left the stage with a backflip, amidst a round of applause.
Tantasqua Regional School Committee Chairman James A. Cooke said to the graduates that when they started their first day of preschool or kindergarten, they probably weren’t thinking about graduation; but their parents were.
“I hope you’ll take the time to thank the person or people who helped you along the way,” he said.
He also thanked Superintendent Daniel Durgin for his service to the district and leadership during tough economic times when surrounding towns are cutting opportunities for students.
“Thanks to his leadership, we have been able to maintain the program here,” he said.
Durgin congratulated the students and parents on a job well done and asked graduates not to forget their Tantasqua family.
“It has been a privilege working here with supportive communities and the best students anywhere,” he said. “…Continue to look for opportunities to help others as you grow and continue to keep on learning.
Class Secretary Casandra Stagias gave the Farewell Address.
“May the best day of your life so far be the worst of your life to come,” she said.
After commencement, graduates and their families and friends gathered on school grounds for pictures, hugs and congratulations.
Caitlyn Griffin said it felt surreal to be graduated.
“It went by so fast, it doesn’t feel like it happened,” she said.
Jonathan Collazo said graduating felt amazing.
“There is no better thing in the world,” he said. “YOLO!”
Randi Thayer said graduating was a relief.
“We are done,” she said. “We get a vacation and then our life begins. For the past 18 years, this is all we’ve known. Now it’s something different.”
Samantha Cass-Evans was excited to be graduated.
“It’s finally over,” she said. “I don’t have to stay up late and stress out anymore.”
Lauren DiCarlo and Devinne Aquandro said they’ll both miss their friends the most.
“It won’t be the same,” Aquandro said.
Julie Boyd said graduating was strange and exciting.
“It’s weird because we’re finally really out of here,” she said. “It’s weird to see my friends graduating, but it’s also exciting at the same time. I’ll miss my friends and miss seeing the same people and the same faces every day.”
James Fontaine had his eyes on the future.
“Graduating feels fantastic,” he said. “Now I can go to work and make a ton of money.”