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Belmont High grads eye path forward, staying connected while being themselves

  • Belmont High School Class of 2018 valedictorian Nicholas Randos speaks at graduation on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Ethan DeWitt / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, June 17, 2018

Standing before his peers, Nicholas Randos spoke with his foot in two worlds.

There was the world he was leaving behind: the four years at Belmont High School – the classes within and the memories without. And there was the one ahead: for Randos, a college degree in political science; for others new paths into health care and science.

Between them would soon be a daunting gap. But with advances in social media, Randos told his graduating classmates, bridging it isn’t impossible. Texts and messages and selfies could still keep the tight-knit class of 100 strong, the valedictorian and class president said.

But the graduates would just have to hold tight to one key piece: their sense of self, Randos said.

“Here’s a newsflash you don’t necessarily see coming across your device,” he said, looking ahead. “Being yourself takes courage. And showing this is powerful.”

On Sunday, through a series of speeches, remembrances, flowers and photos, students and teachers paid tribute to the school and the class, banding under the Bank of New Hampshire pavilion in front of several hundred families and friends.

For the departing seniors, Belmont High School gave them plenty to take away. This was a class that trounced the rest of the school in the grade-versus-grade winter lip sync competition – two years in a row. A class that by some accounts was giving the seniors advice back in freshman year. One that ran wild on a recent trip to Times Square, and made heroes out of coaches and teachers.

Each graduate was departing emboldened. For Devin Poslusny, the future means a career in sports announcing, after he leaves college with a journalism degree and a lifelong dream.

For Keagan Berry, it means a path in occupational therapy, a decision she reached after working with Unified Basketball, a league that partners athletes with developmental disabilities with those able-bodied.

Emeli Reed is looking to one day be a midwife; she leaves with a Licensed Nursing Assistant’s certification obtained through a program at the high school.

And Jacob Bowser, who will major in chemistry, is hoping to help design pharmaceuticals. That spark, he said, was lit by Belmont chemistry teacher Aaron Hayward, who encouraged Bowser to design his own experiments and opened his eyes to the potential of research.

But perhaps no one in the school got as much out of class as one of the teachers himself. Calculus teacher Allen Sheehy came to the school three years ago in his first teaching job, fresh-faced and nervous. He wasn’t sure if he was cut out for the profession, he recalled in a heartfelt keynote speech.

It was the Class of 2018 that gave Sheehy the confidence to accept – and eventually love – his life’s work.

“I am here today because of these students behind me,” he said.

Then he thanked them, one by one, alphabetically, from memory.

The crowd jumped to its feet.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewi tt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)