By Alex Lippa
---- — KINGSTON — Chuck Ross of Kingston said he still surprised at who would be speaking at his high school graduation.
The governor of New Hampshire.
Maggie Hassan was the keynote speaker at last night’s Sanborn Regional High School graduation. Hassan chose Sanborn because of the career pathway learning model which has been set for the students.
“She could have picked so many graduations to go to, but she picked Sanborn,” said Ross, who will be studying genetics at the University of New Hampshire. “I can see why since it’s a good school.”
Hassan told the 158 graduates that though they may have a set path in mind, they should not be afraid to stray from that path.
“At first, I was set on being a doctor,” Hassan said. “But I learned that a career in medicine wasn’t for me. Instead, I was pulled in a different direction.”
She said she learned life lessons in making that career change.
“Fear will be there and failures will happen, but it’s what you do with your fear and failure that matters,” Hassan said.
Although there were clear skies as the sun set outside, Hassan and the graduates were seated in the school’s gym with rain in the forecast.
“I guess I made the wrong call,” principal Brian Stack said to begin the ceremony.
Stack said it was up to the graduates to make the right choices.
“Life will be what you make of it,” he said. “Don’t sell yourself short.”
Throughout the ceremony, Stack gave “Sanborn Salutes” as he recognized specific groups of individuals who made a contribution to the community.
One of those salutes was to valedictorian Daniel Okuniewicz of Newton, who started his speech in a poetic fashion.
“This is only the beginning of the quest,” he said. “The rest is for us to be the best, unless we fail that test.”
Okuniewicz will be studying electrical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, while salutatorian Lauren Barker of Kingston was will be attending University of New Hampshire to study nursing.
Also speaking at the ceremony were teachers Darren Scopel, Paul Arsenault and Eva Lang, seniors Grant Wagner and Emily Mailloux, and Superintendent Brian Blake.
As the graduates said farewell to the school they had been in for the last four years, many said it seemed as if it just started.
“It doesn’t feel real,” said Troy Cairns of Fremont. “I feel like it’s just a dream.”
For others, they were ready to move onto the next stage in their lives.
“I am ready for it to be over with,” said Amber Cornwell of Newton. “I can’t wait to get out and start college.”
But it was bittersweet for parents.
“It’s come much quicker than you wanted it to come, but it’s exciting,” said Cathy Hermann of Fremont. Herrmann’s daughter Sierra will be attending the University of Rhode Island to study fashion merchandising and retail.
After the diplomas were handed out, bagpipes played and the Class of 2013 left Sanborn as a group for the final time.
“It’s remarkable,” said Kyle Pelletier of Fremont. “It doesn’t feel like it’s time yet to leave this place.”