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Franklin High’s Class of 2014 praised for hard work

  • James Jason (center) hugs class advisors Heather Subocz and Jeff Jahn during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    James Jason (center) hugs class advisors Heather Subocz and Jeff Jahn during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Dillon Sylvester (center) hangs out with Rachel Lindley (right) before the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Dillon Sylvester (center) hangs out with Rachel Lindley (right) before the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jacob Antonis (left) hands his cell phone off to his brother before the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jacob Antonis (left) hands his cell phone off to his brother before the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Students enter the gym during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Students enter the gym during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Dillon Sylvester's medals hang off his neck at the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Dillon Sylvester's medals hang off his neck at the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tiffany Rackliff crosses the stage during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tiffany Rackliff crosses the stage during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Connor Austin gets a hug from his sister Andrea following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Connor Austin gets a hug from his sister Andrea following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Carter Henry, class salutatorian, crosses the stage during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Carter Henry, class salutatorian, crosses the stage during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Korey and Zachary Chandler laugh after their family ambushed them with silly string following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Korey and Zachary Chandler laugh after their family ambushed them with silly string following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Friends and family gathered outside following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Friends and family gathered outside following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • James Jason (center) hugs class advisors Heather Subocz and Jeff Jahn during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Dillon Sylvester (center) hangs out with Rachel Lindley (right) before the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jacob Antonis (left) hands his cell phone off to his brother before the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Students enter the gym during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Dillon Sylvester's medals hang off his neck at the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tiffany Rackliff crosses the stage during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Connor Austin gets a hug from his sister Andrea following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Carter Henry, class salutatorian, crosses the stage during the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Korey and Zachary Chandler laugh after their family ambushed them with silly string following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Friends and family gathered outside following the Franklin High School's graduation on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at Franklin Middle School. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Showtime was fast approaching for seniors in the Franklin Middle School cafeteria last night.

In 30 minutes, school and district officials would be commending them for their school spirit, talent and potential.

In an hour, they would be high school graduates, eager for the next challenge.

But just before 6 p.m. yesterday, the group of Franklin High School students near the front of the class processional felt like just that, students.

“I’m nervous, really because I didn’t expect this to come so quickly,” Rachel Lindley said.

Class President Kelsey Bird stood next to Lindley. They, like the rest of the girls in the class, donned yellow caps and gowns. Bird called the moment bittersweet.

“We have a lot of good memories together,” said Bird, who will attend University of Hartford.

The high school, which enrolls kids from Hill and Franklin, graduated 73 seniors last night. Dreary weather pushed the ceremony indoors, but it didn’t dampen the graduates’ spirits.

Valedictorian Dillon Sylvester was also near the front of the procession. With a sash, blue and yellow honors cords and three medals hanging from his neck, he, too, admitted he was nervous.

“I’m nervous, but more nervous about speaking,” he said.

His speech would focus on potential, he said.

“I wanted to keep it short, for my sake and for everybody else’s sake,” he joked.

Sylvester, who received awards for excellence in English, social studies, math, foreign languages and athletics, will attend Bentley University.

After students filed into the packed gym, a projection screen to the left of the stage started showing real-time captioning of every word said during the program. The accommodations were made for salutatorian Carter Henry, who was born hard of hearing and went deaf midway through his senior year.

“He has conducted himself with the utmost courage and character during this time, all the while setting and achieving high expectations for himself,” Principal Richard Towne said.

Henry, who will attend Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, received a standing ovation after his speech, during which he talked about overcoming challenges.

“Like many of my peers, I have faced my own challenges,” he said. “Regardless of our struggles, we have persevered.”

Above all, he asked those in attendance to remember the Class of 2014.

“There are no reset buttons in life, so make the most of it. Leave no stone unturned and no opportunity unseized,” he said. “Don’t hold regrets. Don’t reminisce in the past. Look to the future, your bright future.”

For Towne, this year’s graduates were the first he had seen from freshmen year through senior year. Shortly after he started in 2010, he held an assembly with the Class of 2014. His message – four years will go by faster than you think – was met with little enthusiasm and some eye rolling, he said.

As the students blossomed, working hard all four years and raising more money for their class than other classes had, Towne realized they had listened to his advice.

“This class took that message to heart,” he said, adding that though it was small, the Class of 2014 had big ambition, Sylvester said.

“Not only do I wish we exceed in making the world a better place, I expect it,” he said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)

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