Concord High graduates urged to embrace the fear of change

  • Concord High School principal Tom Sica speaks during graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School senior Sophia Johnson gives the salutatorian address during graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School senior Grace Allaire offers a high five to classmates as they walk by during graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Seniors Michaela Hayes and Logan Stevens present the Crimson Awards during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Lin Moulton walks to the stage during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Chris Demers addresses the class of 2018 during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School senior and New Hampshire Youth Poet Laureate Laila Ruffin recites an original poem during graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Chris Demers addresses the class of 2018 during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School senior Dara McWeeney gives her valedictorian address during graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord school board president Jennifer Paterson speaks during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Senior Brenna McNamara receives her diploma during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Alex Skirkey receives his diploma during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Miguel Ruiz Gonzalez receives his diploma from principal Tom Sica during the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School graduates toss their caps into the air following Saturday’s commencement ceremony at Memorial Field in Concord. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord High School graduation at Memorial Field in Concord on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/16/2018 8:39:00 PM

At the zenith of Concord High School’s 2018 graduation, students were reminded of how easy it is to be certain of their future when they are young.

In a clip put together by Concord’s assessment coordinator, Chris Demers, younger students talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their answers ran the gamut from hairdresser to surgeon, businessman to illustrator, medical professional to “working at the Epsom McDonald’s.”

Demers, who said he had experienced a range of careers himself during his 20 years working in the school district, wanted graduates to take heart from the clip – changing as you grow up is part of the journey.

“The notion that you have to have your future mapped out is a myth,” he said. “It’s good to have a goal, but it’s more important to be flexible.

“I’m a work in progress,” he continued, looking out at the sea of crimson robes on Memorial Field on Saturday. “We’re all a work in progress.”

Demers said the idea of “always becoming” without knowing if you’ll ever be finished can be a scary one. But it was a fear graduates should embrace, not run from.

“Whether the script is already written or you’re just putting pen to the paper, you’re in for a wild, wonderful ride,” he said.

That theme of transformation ran through the commencement ceremony. In some cases, it was inlaid in the physical act of graduating.

“We’ll be stepping up as high schoolers,” said salutatorian Sophie Johnson, “and stepping down to go on a journey.”

In other instances, it was embedded in a story of a seedling straining toward the sun and not recognizing the beauty around them, told by valedictorian Dara McWeeney.

And while trying to grow strong like a tree is important, McWeeney said doing so in pursuit of being like others and not taking in the world around you can hurt you.

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in one’s goals,” she said. “You forget to realize how wonderful life can be ... what you’ve been missing while striving for your goals.”

But no transformation can be complete without looking back and remembering those who helped you get there – some who might not be with us today, said principal Tom Sica.

For CHS, this idea is always symbolized in a lone white chair placed near the center of the ceremony. Everyone has someone who fills the chair, Jordan Blanchard said. For him, the chair was filled by his grandma that helped his single-parent mother raise him. Blanchard said he never knew his father, but his mother and grandmother more than made up for it.

“No one individual here is alone, because we all share this one common wish,” he said. “But those people live on in the little things, in our memories and mannerisms.”

Graduates also honored two CHS faculty who helped them along their way, bestowing the Crimson Award on Lin Mouldon and Bart Pospychala.

And graduates were encouraged to remember a final source of encouragement and strength – each other.

“There is a commonality in each and every one of our paths that can be traced back to the same distinct roots,” said Laila Ruffin, who was named the New Hampshire Youth Poet Laureate in August and read from an original poem called “Finality.”

“So in these final moments together, take time to look back on the commonalities we share. ... Let’s go back to basics, simple arithmetic, recess, phonics to see how far we’ve come, and how we’ve done this together,” she read.

“And even as our paths veer from this one straight course, I wish you all the best.”

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)



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