November 27, 2014

‘Opening new doors to life’

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Loud and clear messages sent to, by 2011 CVU graduates

June 23, 2011

By Steven Frank
Observer staff

Matt Rich of Williston gets some last-minute help with his tie before the CVU graduation ceremony. (Observer photo by Stephen Mease)

They saw the election of the first African-American U.S. President.

They saw the worst oil spill in history ravage the Gulf of Mexico.

They saw U.S. Navy SEALs find and kill terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

On June 17, more than 330 Champlain Valley Union High School seniors saw their high school careers culminate with diplomas.

“I’m really happy for everyone in our class. I think we really pulled together,” said CVU 2011 graduate Rosemary Moore, a Williston resident.

The class of 2011 experienced a lot of historical and personal events since it first entered CVU’s hallways in the fall of 2007. The graduation ceremony, which took place inside the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington, touched on those experiences with messages for the class to remember and use toward the future.

CVU seniors Molly Howard and Anna Shelley kicked off the commencement exercises by leading the packed audience of more than 3,000 into a tribute to Dylan Peters, a fellow member of the CVU class of 2011 who died following a car accident on April 7. Instead of the usual moment of silence, the crowd erupted into an echoing activity more befitting Peters – a moment of loudness that featured nearly 30 seconds of cheers and cries of “we love you Dylan.”

“We had talked about wanting to honor (Peters) in some way and balance that with the celebration of the entire community,” said CVU principal Sean McMannon, who announced the name of each graduate during the diploma presentation. “The loud piece of it certainly honors Dylan’s personality. He was such a vibrant, lively, big personality. He was a friend to all.”

The ceremony’s first student speaker, Williston resident Julie Ho, spoke about changes in society over the class’ four years at CVU and how each member can make an impact on future ones.

“We’re closing the doors to high school but opening new doors to life,” she said. “We all have the ability to change society and change the world.”

Class of 2011 members Carlee Evans, Jameson Hurd and Katherine Meyer also spoke.

Evans, a basketball player coached at CVU by her father, Jeff, made references to the school’s athletic accomplishments including its recent boys lacrosse and golf state titles. Hurd mentioned the scholars’ bowl team’s success – it earned a trip to the national championships in Atlanta, Ga. – and Meyer said that she wants members of the class to get up each day “doing what they love to do.”

Former Williston resident Morgan Page, a 1999 CVU graduate, was guest speaker. Page, a musician and producer living in Los Angeles, Calif., has mixed more than 110 songs by artists including Madonna, Coldplay and the B-52s. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical earlier this year.

At last Friday’s graduation, he told the class that it took him awhile to find his niche. He encouraged graduates to be patient and not let life pass them by without pursuing their passion.

“High school was hard, I wasn’t kidding. I wasn’t the most popular kid, it took a long time to find myself,” Page said after the ceremony. “I just wanted to get that message out to follow their gut.”

Ryan Stearns, a Williston resident who wrestled at CVU, will follow his. He plans to attend Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo. on a wrestling scholarship.

“It’s finally here,” Stearns said of his graduation. “I’m going to miss wrestling, miss my team … I’m not going to miss reading and schoolwork.”

Moore pointed out that graduation represents the end of an era.

“I hope that I can still see people but I know for a lot of us, this is good-bye,” said Moore, who will attend Bishops University in Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada.

Simon Quayle, a Williston resident who plans to attend Purchase College, State University of New York, also said that it’s hard to say good-bye to a group he spent four years with and that he is nervous about college. But he is also confident that CVU has prepared him for the journey.

“CVU has taught me to be an independent person. I think for myself now and am ready to tackle whatever is thrown at me,” he said.

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