LANGDON — For one last time, the Fall Mountain Regional High School class of 2019 gathered Saturday.
At graduation, speakers reflected on the journey the seniors took from kindergarten to moments before stepping across the well-trodden stage.
Richard Towne, principal of the high school, drew a parallel for parents in the crowd to the day their children stepped on the school bus for the first time to watching them as young adults donning their caps and gowns.
“You’ll always carry a piece of Fall Mountain with you, wherever you go,” Towne said.
Michael Harrington, chairman of the school board, encouraged the graduates not to be afraid of an uncertain future, and to take time to relax after completing their regimented secondary schooling and celebrating accomplishments along the way.
Class of 2019 award recipients on graduation day included George Gowdy and Savana Wilson, who won the Wildcat Award and Faculty Award, respectively, for leadership and service to community.
Salutatorian Kendall McAllister then gave a lively and personable speech about the intangible benefits her classmates gained coming through the Fall Mountain system.
Fall Mountain teachers, though primarily tasked with imparting subject knowledge, also “taught us how to be better people,” McAllister said.
She also thanked her athletic coaches over the years for believing in her abilities even when she did not.
Valedictorian Sarah Klema, who took the stage during a forceful wind gust that nearly took her cap and tassel with it, embraced the fact that Saturday’s graduation would be the last time the class and their families will all be together at once.
Klema then built out an avian metaphor of the graduates as “fledglings,” and Fall Mountain as their nest.
All of the milestones leading to graduation, Klema said, were steps closer and closer to “the fringe of the nest.”
In taking that final jump — whether enrolling in college, joining the workforce, enlisting in the military or meandering about the country or abroad in search of answers — Klema offered one piece of advice, couching it as “ridiculously unqualified.”
Never sacrifice individuality in these pursuits, Klema urged, especially if the only goal is to please someone else.
The ceremony’s guest speaker, Randy Rhoades (class of 1988), who has worked on the Dollars for Scholars campaign to help Fall Mountain students with the costs of attending college, took a moment to embrace nostalgia shared by other former Wildcats in the crowd.
“I was you, 31 years ago,” Rhoades said, peering out into the crowd spread across the school football field.
An Alstead resident, Rhoades said many conversations locally are struck up by sharing each other’s class year from Fall Mountain, or if they knew someone in a sibling or friend’s graduating class.
Whether the students stay in the region, explore options and come back, or never return, Rhoades promised to help to keep the class’ bonds strong by donating $250 to defray the cost of their five-year reunion.
After the Wildcats walked across the well-trodden stage and took their diplomas, the class gift was announced by Faith Golec and Natalie Grover: a donation for a new graduation stage.
Whatever uncertainties lie ahead for the graduates, and out of all the inspirational quotes embraced or teased, McAllister’s refrain garnered some of the biggest applause.
“You just have to go for it and give your all,” the salutatorian said. “We beat senioritis.
“Is there anything we can’t do?”
Bradley Andrzejczyk, Trevor Austin, Julia Badders, Jason Ball, Jacob Barboza, Jacob Bardis, McKenzie Bardis, Jonathan Barratt, Malia Bates, William Benjamin, Ruslan Bierweiler-Franks, Lia Bingham, James Blair, Zachary Blair, Donald Blood, Kyle Bobee, Ryan Bowers, Elissa Brady, Josephine Britton, Austin Buckley, Corbyn Bunnell, Kylah Carrier, Dylan Carpenter, Angelina Carti, Gabriel Chabot, Alexander Charuhas, Mikala Chase, Jonathan Clark, Hunter Colburn, Danielle Collins, Corlee Conklin, Collin Diemer, Erin Donovan, Benjamin Dufield, Mataya Erno, Aspen Fagga, Rebecca Fagga, Franklin Farnham, Ray Farnsworth, Chelsea Flanagan, Jacob Flynn, Mya Fowle, Justin Garneau, Leah Gay, Jason Thomas Gibbs II, Faith Golec, George Gowdy, Natalie Grover, Allana Harris, Shane Healy, Jacy Heidorn, Jada Howard, Kendra Howe, Kaleb Hutchinson, Natasha Jones, Benjamin Kathan, Julia Kelsey, Sarah Klema, Mason Lantz, Trevor Leclerc, Joey Leining, Reilly Lessard, Nicole Limoges, Maria Luther-Houghton, Mason Mack, Caroline MacLachlan, Owen Marandino, Tess Marsden, Madison Martell, Brandon Martin, Emelia Martinez, Benjamin Mattson, Kendall McAllister, Hannah McCormick, Danessa McShane, Adam Moody, Bryson Moore, Michael Moore, Elizabeth Moses, Joseph Murdoch, Daniel Newell, Cody Norton, Hunter Oberst, Taylor Ovaitte, Caitlin Patch, Ethan Peltier, Noah Pratt, Clay Prior, Sergio Pritchett, Ryan Provencher, Sarah Putnam, Austin Read, Paige Ricci, Nicholas Roentsch, Robert Roettger, Tyler Ross, Joshua Rumrill, Ryer Seymour, Prett Shaw, Jacob Shoemaker, Carter Smith, Isabelle Smith, Michael Smith, Koltin Stetson, Evan Swift, Zoe Utton, Lindsey Vaine, Chloe Vogel, Pearl Walker, Alexis White, Zachary Whiton, Brandon Wilbur, William Wilder, Jennifer Wilds, Erika Wilson, Savana Wilson and Benjamin Wojchick