Bow graduates told to follow their ABCs: Be adaptive, bold compassionate

  • The Bow High School graduates line up before processing into Northeast Delta Dental stadium in Manchester on Friday, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bow senior Danielle Troxell (left) gets excited as her classmate Chelsey Rousseau puts on her tassle as the pair prepare for graduation at the Delta Dental stadium in Manchester on Friday, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bow High School class president Jack Roberge leads the graduating class into Northeast Delta Dental stadium on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Bow High School class president Jack Roberge gets ready before the graduation ceremony at Northeast Delta Dental on Friday, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bow High School graduates process into Northeast Delta Dental stadium as family and friends look on Friday, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bow High School class president Jack Roberge led the graduation class into Northeast Delta Dental stadium on Friday, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bow High School graduates get ready for the ceremony at Northeast Delta Dental in Manchester on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Bow graduates Danielle Troxell (left) and Chelsey Rousseau take a selfie before the ceremony at Northeast Delta Dental stadium in Manchester on Friday.

  • Bow High School graduates line up as the ceremony gets started at Northeast Delta Dental stadium in Manchester on Friday, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bow High School graduates look at a video presentation at Northeast Delta Dental stadium during the ceremony, June 11, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/11/2021 4:53:42 PM

On the jumbotron above center field, faces of Bow High School soon-to-be graduates flashed. After an unconventional year, it was fitting for the graduation ceremony for the class of 2021, to have a twist.

“I happen to think this is a unique graduation,” said Senior Class President Jack Roberge to the crowd at Fisher Cats stadium in Manchester Friday.

Rather than delivering a long-winded speech at a podium, Roberge had a different idea. He wrote his speech ahead of time, divided it up and asked his classmates for help, who recorded themselves saying lines from his takeaway message. Roberge then pieced together for a video tribute in the opening remarks in the ceremony. Together, the snippets summed up 720 days the class shared during the past four years. 

“It’s my speech, but it’s really everyone’s speech and that’s a good metaphor to represent the class,” he explained ahead of the ceremony. 

Togetherness was one of many messages at Bow’s graduation. The class stuck together through performances, tests, championships and more notably, a global pandemic. 

The class sat together one last time on the baseball field between first and third base, sporting their navy blue cap and gowns with a pinned white flower. Some wore yellow National Honor Society sashes, others chose to decorate their caps with mementos like Kanye West’s “Graduation” album cover.

For Principal Brian O’Connell, this class was notable because they stayed together with him through his first four years at Bow. They both entered the high school in 2017 – the students as eager freshmen, and O’Connell as a newly hired principal.

In his address to the graduating class, O’Connell pulled out a white piece of paper. It was a speech he was asked to deliver almost four years ago to the day, to the class of 2021 at their eighth-grade graduation. It was O’Connell’s first responsibility as the new principal. 

In his speech then, he shared how he was told this class was special and destined to do great things. At home plate, he repeated those remarks. 

Rather than lament on the hardship of the last year, which O’Connell called “crazy, emotional, exhausting,” he shared how the graduating class took all challenges in stride. From canceled proms, to sports seasons, they found new ways to come together as a class.

One of these events included ‘Bowchella’, a senior class carnival, where students raised over $4,000 to throw the event. Local restaurants and businesses donated food, games and even fireworks for the seniors’ night.

For O’Connell this was one of many examples of perseverance from the students. It also showed the community of the class.

Community was a reoccurring theme in Drew Groves and Chris Naimie’s commencement address. Groves and Naimie, both science teachers at Bow, are retiring at the end of the school year. Together, they stood at home plate to speak to the class.

“We are joining them as we all head off for new adventures,” said Naimie.

Naimie reminded students they are not alone in what comes next. Groves, provided the class with two words to keep in mind: altruism, and Ubuntu, a Zulu phrase that means, “I am, because you are.”

In his address as one of two student graduation speakers, Ben Neff began with thank yous to his family, friends and teachers. He then prompted his class to do the same.

“I strongly encourage you to go and thank those who have helped you after the ceremony,” he said.

And when it was time for each senior to receive their diploma, marking the start of their new adventure, they did just that.

While students walked from first base to home plate, O’Connell had the idea to fill the silence with a thank you message. Each student wrote a personal thank you that was read aloud during their precession.

Some thanked the school.

“I would like to thank everyone in the arts department for supporting and inspiring me all these years,” wrote Rosaria Anderson.

Others thanked family.

“Thank you to my family who have given endless love and laugher,” shared Kristina Pizzi.

And some, gave a shout out to their favorite food.

“Thank you to ramen and the people that make it,” wrote Colin Bayer.

Each senior was also thanked for their contribution to Bow High School, whether it be in student government, the arts or athletics. O’Connell asked students to stand to be recognized for their participation.

“Shout out to all our seniors for recognizing that learning that happens outside the classroom can be just as valuable as learning that happens inside the classroom,” he said.

Both O’Connell and Neff shared that they struggled to find a takeaway message for the graduates. There was no inspirational quote or message that would do the class justice, said O’Connell.

But Aiden Fisher, the second student graduation speaker, had a message that went back to basics: the ABC’s of the class of 2021.

“A is for adaptive,” she said. “When senior year rolled around, we looked it in the eyes and said ‘let’s do this.’ ”

B stood for bold, inspired by the class’s enthusiasm and dedication to any task at hand.

And lastly, C was for compassionate.

“This is the nicest group of people that I know,” she told her class.

As each student crossed home plate, received their diploma and officially was deemed a graduate, Fisher asked one thing of her classmates: to remember their ABC’s.


Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

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