Dartmouth High grads urged to pursue success, optimism

By Douglas McCulloch | Jun 03, 2018
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Alexis Torres and Abby Clark pose together after the ceremonies.

As more than 200 Dartmouth High students crossed the stage and received diplomas on June 3, Class President Morgan Oliveira centered her speech on those who were not -- victims of violence in schools across the country.

“These students are only trying to pursue an education, but were stopped short of accepting their diplomas,” Oliveira said.

Midway through her speech, she asked the members of her graduating class, and the families and faculty that had gathered, to hold a moment of silence for those lives lost in shootings that happened in Parkland, Texas, and elsewhere.

Principal Ross Thibault, presiding over his first Dartmouth High graduation since taking the helm of the school at the beginning of the school year, highlighted student accomplishments and memories seniors created, from senior prom to TED Talks and successful fundraisers. He urged students to seize success, even in the midst of adversity.

“I believe each of you possess the knowledge, skill, and will to be successful, though it won’t be easy,” Thibault said. “You’re graduating and entering the next chapter of your life in very cynical times. Today, optimism is ridiculed as foolish and weak.”

Thibault urged students to remember their most recent lesson in English class, from reading The Great Gatsby: believe and chase that green light.

Valedictorian Ethan Goulart ran through a list of student success over the year -- from selling out theater performances, hosting four Special Olympics events, saving lives through bi-annual blood drives, improving student life with new TED Talk sessions and television shows, and leading music and sports teams to victory.

“We are champions,” Goulart said. “Our motivation to succeed and our appreciation for one another will take us far beyond Dartmouth High School.”

Douglas Smith delivered the faculty address. The long-time chemistry teacher recalled his brush with failure. He left the private sector to become a science teacher, but a year later lost his job. He urged students not to let failure stop their dreams.

Salutatorian and class treasurer Benjamin Will highlighted $30,000 the class raised to help fund a junior banquet, lower event ticket prices, provide fireworks for prom, and fund after-prom events. The Class of 2018 received $170,000 in scholarships, he noted.

Superintendent Bonny Gifford borrowed from Dr. Seuss, reciting his famous quote from Oh, The Places You'll Go.

“The good doctor encourages us to enter life’s journey with an open mind and be willing to seize opportunity and take risks,” Gifford said.

For many high school students, graduation is a time when parting roads leads to saying goodbye to old friends. But Alexis Torres and Abby Clark won’t be saying their goodbyes anytime soon, as they are both heading to the same college together.

Friends since middle school, the two are set to study at the University of New England together -- Torres in nursing and Clark in occupational therapy. It’s just the way the pair’s journey forward worked out.

“It was just fate,” Torres said.

Friends Austin Dennis Sa and Jacob Le Do. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Graduates line up to receive their diplomas. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
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