Pembroke graduates told greatness requires at least a bit of foolishness

  • Pembroke Academy administration and staff congratulate graduates during the commencement ceremony on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Pembroke Academy graduate Carley Songen gives her mom, Tammie, a kiss after commencement on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Pembroke Academy New Hampshire scholar winner Casey Bardier gets a hug after receiving her diploma on Saturday. Bardier will attend North Carolina State University in the fall.

  • Pembroke Academy graduates laugh during Headmaster Paul Famulari’s remarks during the school’s 2017 commencement on Saturday, June 17, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke Academy students Felicia Brooks (left), Olivia Frost, Emma Daley (back), and Amber Rollston shout out at the graduates during the Pembroke Academy commencement on Saturday, June 17, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Saturday, June 17, 2017

In a bit of advice that reflected the way graduations often mix humor and seriousness, Pembroke Academy’s departing seniors were told this Saturday: “Until you are ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”

That comment from class advisor Kathy Yackanin came during a tag-team speech with the other class advisor, Matt Dion, as part of Saturdays’ ceremony, which saw 181 diplomas handed out under skies that never followed through on their threat to rain.

The speakers during the two-hour ceremony seemed ready for greatness since they didn’t hold back from a bit of foolishness.

Salutatorian Emma Gage, for example, embraced the title of nerd and reminisced about “Kevin, my pet cockroach.”

Class president Jared Bjornberg reminisced about the senior prank, when students wrapped up the cars of the headmaster and dean of students.

Valedictorian Sailor Hurley, after noting that this is the last graduating class born in the 20th century, with tongue firmly in cheek, lamented having to wrestle with old-tech problems such as recording cellphone ring tones off the air instead of downloading them.

And Headmaster Paul Famulari took a moment out from listing useful bits of advice (“be good to your family”) to provide this stern instruction to all graduates: “Stop flipping water bottles, hoping they will land right side up. Stop, stop it – just stop!”

He also took note of one of the great accomplishments of the year, in the opinion of some students: Ending the rule against wearing hats in school.

Pembroke, which takes students from Allenstown, Chichester, Epsom and Pembroke, is one of the state’s oldest public schools, preparing to celebrate its bicentennial next year.

The gift from the class of 2017 was two-fold: A gazebo for relaxing and studying outdoors, and a karaoke machine for – well, probably not studying.

The ceremony honored eight students who will be entering the military after graduation, and featured a moment of silence for two who passed away since entering the school four years ago.

“I honestly feel like I went to bed last night as a freshman, and woke up today as a graduate,” said Bjornberg, the class president, who recalled “barely pushing 5 feet tall” when he entered the school as a freshman.

“I think we are starting to realize how hard it will be to leave.”