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Winnisquam graduates reminded to ‘cherish every moment’

Parker Normand has gained a wealth of experience at Winnisquam Regional High School.

As president of the National Honor Society, Normand has served meals at the Bread and Roses Soup Kitchen in Franklin, visited war heroes at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton and conducted youth programming at the Pines Community Center in Northfield.

A 12-season athlete, Normand served as captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams his senior year. He was also part of the 2010 varsity baseball team that won the school’s first-ever championship in the sport, one of his favorite memories from Winnisquam.

But despite his wide array of experiences at the school, Normand said the most rewarding part of his time there was something much simpler: finishing with the same classmates he began with.

“I’ve lived in this area all my life, and going through each school with the same group of kids has been incredible,” he said. “I wouldn’t give that up for anything.”

Normand and his 95 classmates celebrated that closeness yesterday evening when they graduated from Winnisquam Regional in caps decorated with memories of past times together and hopes for the future.

Health teacher Alison Marshall, whom the class elected to give their graduation address, echoed the love the Class of 2013 feels for each other.

“When I think of these young men and women seated before you, I think of a class that is happy to see each other succeed and excel at something, even more than being an individual in the spotlight,” she said.

Marshall recognized the impact this love has made on the graduates themselves, their families and their community. She encouraged the class to continue loving others passionately as they proceed in life, if for no other reason than the health benefits of love, which she said she has learned in her profession.

But in order to achieve happiness, Marshall said the graduates must also continue to love themselves through each step of their journey.

“When you wake up each day and you look in the mirror, do you love yourself? Do you love your life? Do you love your job?” she asked. “If you keep saying no more than yes, when will you take the time to change?”

In addition to lessons of love, the Winnisquam Regional 2013 class received advice on appreciating the present.

Class valedictorian Sylvia Romero referenced the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and quoted, “Life moves
pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Romero acknowledged time seems to be passing at a faster pace than ever before, but she told her fellow graduates they do not have to move so quickly.

“It is important to work hard to reach your goals, but leave time for relaxation,” she said. “Spend time with your loved ones, family and friends. Cherish every moment.”

While they waited to receive their diplomas, the graduates seemed to be taking Romero’s advice as they cheered and applauded while music director Kirk Young called the names of friends and classmates.

In addition to distributing diplomas, Winnisquam presented several awards to outstanding students. Jennifer Robinson, class salutatorian, received the activity
council award, and Elyssa Clairmont and Austin Hunt each received awards from the athletic council. The Daniel E. Stockwell educational award, given to the senior with the power to improve America’s education system, was presented to Taylor
Chavanelle.

Normand took home two awards: the School Board community service award and the Pucci award for outstanding character, leadership ability, and academic and athletic achievement.

In the fall, Normand will attend Plymouth State University for one semester before he leaves to train as a signal support systems specialist with the National Guard in Fort Benning, Ga. Following the 26-week training period, Normand will continue his education at Plymouth State in fall 2014 while he works as a system specialist one weekend per month.

While he is looking forward to the future with enthusiasm, Normand said he does wish life would slow down for the moment.

“I’m excited, but I don’t want it to happen so quick, you know?” he said. “This is a moment we’ll all cherish forever and wish we could relive.”

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