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Hopkinton graduates urged to stay true to who they are

  • Timothy Meserve and the rest of the class of 2017 are congratulated by their teachers during the recessional of the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Nicholas Mayo walks across the stage during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Alexis Blanchette walks across the stage during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Co-salutatorian Kevin Mackenzie gives his address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Sam Needleman walks across the stage during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Four seniors sing the "Hopkinton High School Alma Mater" during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Superintendent Steven Chamberlin gives his address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Commencement speaker Lawrence Bickford gives his address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Co-salutatorian Samuel Needleman gives his address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Principal Christopher Kelley gives his address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Valedictorian Aidan Molnar gives his address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Henry Yianakopolos walks across the stage during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Ivanna Doval receives her diploma during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Class of 2017 president Nicholas Mayo gives the welcome address during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds on Friday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • This year's Hopkinton High School graduation took place at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Lillias Whitehead walks across the stage during the Hopkinton High School graduation at Durgin Arena on the Hopkinton Fairgrounds in Contoocook, Friday, June 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)



Monitor staff
Friday, June 16, 2017

Know yourself, love yourself and, finally, be yourself, because only then can you give the world the best version of you.

From the commencement to salutatorian and valedictory addresses, the theme of self-worth and individualism carried through to each speech delivered to Hopkinton High School’s Class of 2017. The 56 graduating seniors donning green and white at the J.D. Durgin Memorial Pulling Arena on the fairgrounds Friday were told not just to exceed their expectations, but to “blow them up.”

“Live everyday like you’re allergic to failure, like the very thought that someone is better than you makes you feel sick,” said Kevin Mackenzie, one of two salutatorians.

He encouraged his fellow classmates to work hard, to have a vision and to think outside the box because sometimes the best ideas sound terrible at first.

In order to develop a vision, some people need time to explore and try new things, even if that means dabbling in a half-dozen subject matters before finding the perfect fit, said Lawrence Bickford, a math teacher who delivered the commencement address.

Bickford told the Class of 2017 that he thought he was destined to be a doctor, but during his first semester at Dartmouth College realized the profession wasn’t for him. He said he spent half of his college career hoping he’d find the perfect fit – that one thing that would make his eyes light up. He found it in a book about teaching third graders in inner city Chicago.

While many of his classmates went on to become doctors and lawyers, Bickford said he broke the mold, forming his own path despite the criticism he received for doing so.

“This is where my exploration had taken me and I was not to be dissuaded,” he told Hopkinton’s graduating seniors.

He said he was able to find his passion in life because he had the chance to explore, and he encouraged the Class of 2017 to make sure they took time to do the same.

“I want you to find work that you love,” Bickford said, adding, once you find it “set your bar high. Don’t settle; don’t do mediocre work. You can’t do mediocre work if you love what you do.”

In his valedictory address, Aidan Molnar shared a similar message to graduates by retelling a story from his childhood. Molnar said he was 3 years old when he went to the San Diego Zoo with his family, and he wanted nothing more than to see the polar bears. The exhibit, however, was on the far side of the zoo, and so Molnar rebelled by ignoring all of the other animals along the way.

What he regrets most today, he said, is missing out on the journey because he was fixated on the final destination.

“Don’t let one facet of your life become so overbearing that it leaves you exhausted and drained – have a balance,” Molnar said. “You aren’t chained to one thing; you have to try different things.”

But as you do, understand that you will be challenged and failures, class president Nicholas Mayo said. The most important thing to remember: Don’t give up.

“Look the challenge in the eye and say. ‘I’m bigger than you. I cannot be defeated,’ ” he told his classmates.

Mayo said life is not a walk in the park and that failure, although often viewed in a negative light, can make a person stronger.

“Make use of your actions and words to make a personal impact on the world – no matter how big or small. You’ll be a more fulfilled and disciplined person,” he said. “As long as you have passion and drive, there’s no reason the goals you set cannot be accomplished.”

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)