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Prospect Mountain High School bids farewell to Class of 2013

At last night’s Prospect Mountain High School graduation, senior Mike Salas watched the ceremony from a vantage point he is not accustomed to: the stage.

Salas, head of the school’s technical crew, has run the lighting and sound boards for nearly every production and event the school has put on last three years.

“My sophomore year, I went to every single after-school event for the entire year; all the little concerts, award ceremonies, inductions, all of those things,” he said. “I actually got to run my own National Honor Society induction ceremony.”

In addition to musical productions and ceremonies, his duties on tech crew have enabled Salas to work during class presentations and movie screenings, school board meetings and even a town hall gathering hosted by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

But for his commencement, Salas relinquished the reins to the heads of next year’s technical crew and sat back to enjoy his last few hours as a high school student.

He listened while Principal James Fitzpatrick read a letter to a member of the class, Rachel Kanash, asking her to pass on messages to certain individuals at a future high school reunion.

In his letter, Fitzpatrick thanked class valedictorian Sean Perkins for being the only student throughout his tenure at Prospect who has always referred to Fitzpatrick by his full name. He told Dagny Brown, an exceptional scholar, athlete and artist, that he considers her to be the most decorated individual ever to pass through Prospect Mountain. And he thanked Salas simply for being his friend.

“Anytime I needed anything, he (Salas) was right there for me, and I hope I could do the same for him,” Fitzpatrick said.

Perkins, who will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall, used his valedictory address to emphasize to his classmates that the greatest talent they can achieve in life is the ability to recover.

“Your life is going to be substantially full of failure,” he said. “Whenever you find yourself in the midst of failure, do not embrace it. . . . The least you can do is to stand up and regain and get back to where you were before, to recover.”

In order to gain the talent of recovery, Perkins said he and his classmates must keep hope and faith as the central modifiers of their lives. To be able to get back to the place they were at before the failure, a person must not let doubt creep in, but must instead trust that what they want will happen. And to move past the failure, Perkins said, they need to have the belief they will move past it not just once, but always, and to have faith in that.

“If you allow hope and faith to be your modifiers, they will highlight your talent, the thing that should make you happy,” he said. “And with talent on your side, you will find a way out of failure.”

One individual who has allowed her talents to shine through during her time at Prospect is Brown. While reading his letter to the class of 2013, Fitzpatrick cited Brown’s incredible achievements, all the while noting that the information may come as a shock to several people, because Brown never expected special recognition for any of her accomplishments.

Brown, who graduated fifth in the class of 118, has split her time at Prospect between several AP courses, varsity soccer and indoor and outdoor track and every school musical.

Before the ceremony, Brown said she took on the intense workload not to showcase her skills to anyone, but to prove her abilities to herself.

“I wanted to push myself the hardest this year,” Brown said. “I felt like I hadn’t been trying as hard the other years. . . . I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do it.”

Academic achievements are not foreign to Prospet’s Class of 2013, 85 percent of whom are pursuing higher education next year.

Keynote speaker and chemistry teacher Dr. Bill McGrew gave the graduates who will be attending college several pieces of advice.

“Demand extra help from your college professors,” he said. “They make a lot more than we do, make them earn it.”

Remember to call home once a week, he also said, and please do your own laundry when you inevitably bring it home.

Salas is one such graduate who will be lugging his laundry bag home from school next year. He hopes to continue his technical crew involvement with the theater department of Thomas College in Maine, where he plans to study business administration.

While part of him is thrilled he can take a temporary break from lighting and soundboards, Salas said he will definitely miss the job that enabled him to become close with everyone at Prospect Mountain, from Fitzpatrick to the custodial staff.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “There are nights I’d stay after until 8 p.m. or later. So I’m kind of glad I get to leave, but at the same time I’ll miss everyone. The faculty and staff here really are amazing.”

(Mel Flanagan can be reached at 369-3321 or mflanagan
@cmonitor.com.)

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