Telstar High School Class of 2012 graduates
“I know you will become great people, based on how you’ve treated me throughout these 13 years.”
In a heartfelt commencement speech last Friday, Telstar High School graduate Britany Douglass repeatedly thanked her classmates and teachers for the support they had shown her over her school career.
The third honors student in the Class of 2012, she was one of 65 to receive diplomas at the school’s graduation ceremony.
Douglass, who is legally blind, noted that “one in four teens is bullied. I have never had that experience, because of these graduates beside me. Through physical education classes, field trips and the transitions we have gone through together, these people have always been here for me. You will never know how much I appreciate that.”
She also thanked the staff. “Helen Keller once said, ‘The highest result of education is tolerance,’” said Douglass.
She went on to describe how teachers guided her: “helping me read the board, when I couldn’t see it, not excluding me from gym class - when I know that dodge ball is not my best sport; and never making me feel less valuable just because I couldn’t see. You allowed me to be a normal kid through all these years.”
And again addressing her classmates, Douglass concluded, “I know that because of the patience and kindness you have given me, I will be able to confidently step off into the new chapter in my life. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you.”
Also addressing her classmates was salutatorian Emily Bellinger, who sang the National Anthem at the commencement ceremony and will go on to study music in college.
She used the study of music as a metaphor for the challenges and struggles she and her classmates will face.
She described how, in first learning to play an instrument, an aspiring musician would begin with a sense of optimism, but would quickly learn how much discipline would be required.
The graduates will likely encounter similar circumstances in pursuing their goals, she said. “I hope you will be able to apply the same principles of dedication and passion to the lives that are waiting for us,” she said, “and be able to make a truly beautiful sound.”
Bellinger was followed by valedictorian Adam Mahar, who spoke on the theme of YOLO: You Only Live Once. Noting that the expression may imply that “risks should be taken, experiences had, and this sole adventure taken to the utmost precipice, and from there hurled off,” he urged his classmates that when choices present themselves, the young people should “use discretion and common sense.” They should analyze the situation, but at the same time be prepared “to improvise,” he said.
Also speaking to the graduates was special guest speaker Antonio Solis, a fitness specialist. He described how, in his youth, he had approached life with an often impatient, cynical and angry attitude. “I didn’t see that my circle of family and friends truly loved and adored me very much,” he said.
He told the class that he learned it is possible to change such attitudes, “to choose a different lens to look at the world, to choose a different attitude – repeatedly. Practice it every single moment of every single day of your life, of being who you want to be for the rest of your life, because all those moments are your life.”
Following the speeches, class members Joshua Head, Taylor Kelly and Mahar offered “Reflections,” anecdotal memories of the graduates’ years in school, including: having only one girl in class at the Andover Elementary School; making a big deal of graduating from fifth grade; games of four-square and metal detectors at Telstar; and having SAT tests and prom on the same day.
The entire class then sang “How Far We’ve Come,” accompanied by graduates Hal Harren on piano and Matthew Keane on drums.
SAD 44 School Board Chair Sid Pew followed with congratulatory remarks, and Superintendent Dave Murphy certified the graduates. Principal Dan Hart then presented the diplomas.
Class advisors Ellen Marshall and Sarah Southam gave the farewell, and the ceremony was closed by Dean of Students Charles Raymond. Raymond gave his traditional advice to the students as they celebrate their graduation: “Take care of each other.”
Following the commencement the graduates took part in Project Graduation events in the Windham/Portland area.