Merrimack Valley grads ready to make their mark

  • The Merrimack Valley High School Class of 2016 walks to their commencement ceremony Saturday morning.  ELODIE REED / Monitor staff

  • Aleta Vermette receives a hug from her mother, Irene Kelly, following the Merrimack Valley High School graduation ceremony Saturday.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley High School class of 2016 graduated Saturday. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley Valedictorian Lindsay Kusnarowis speaks to her class during their graduation ceremony Saturday.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Austin Maziarz talks with his classmates before receiving his diploma from Merrimack Valley High School.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley High School class of 2016 graduated Saturday. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley High School class of 2016 throws their graduation caps (and some beach balls) Saturday.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Jason Dickey hugs Merrimack Valley High School principal David Miller after recieving his diploma Saturday.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • A beach ball lies on the grass following the Merrimack Valley commencement ceremony Saturday.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Zachary White waves to family following the Merrimack Valley High School graduation ceremony Saturday. ELODIE REED / Monitor staff

  • Harrison Worster walks to receive his diploma at Merrimack Valley High School Saturday. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Mason Kimball receives a hug from Merrimack Valley High School graduate Samantha Osborne Saturday as Cassie Carey comes in for the next hug.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Families and friends gather following the Merrimack Valley High School graduation ceremony Saturday. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/12/2016 12:29:28 AM

Merrimack Valley Valedictorian Lindsay Kusnarowis grew up watching “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and reading every book she could. She realized her junior year that she loved science and wanted to try some research.

Pushing aside anxieties, she emailed some scientists at the University of New Hampshire. The result – completing a program with the UNH Space Science Center and working this summer for the university’s Institute for the Studies of Earth, Oceans and Space – is what happens, Kusnarowis said, when people seize opportunities.

“Anxieties . . . don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do,” Kusnarowis told her classmates, who sat before her during the Merrimack Valley High School graduation Saturday.

In the same spirit, Salutatorian Noah Perelli took words from Rocky Balboa to advise the Class of 2016.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to imitate his voice,” Perelli said to laughter. Quoting the movie hero, he added, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. . . . You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.”

“But,” Perelli continued in his quotation, “it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. . . . That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth.” 

And what the more than 150 students he spoke to were worth, Perelli, said, was a lot. 

“Collectively,” he said, “we are a very talented and dedicated group.”

Principal David Miller listed some of the accomplishments made by the Class of 2016. Students were recipients of New Hampshire Scholastic Art Awards, Eagle Scout certifications, a Civil Air Patrol ranking, music and sports all-state performances and Winnisquam Regional Agricultural Center awards. 

Miller also asked students to stand if they were going into college, a career or family business, or the military. 

“Go forward,” Miller said. “Leave a positive impact on the lives of others.”

Teacher of the year Michael Proulx told students a story to illustrate the importance of leaving their mark on the world.

Years ago at an environmental camp in Cape Cod, Proulx said he chaperoned as a seventh-grade class went there for a week. “We were there to learn about nature,” he said.

He and the students witnessed a herring run, discussed wetland ecosystems in a cranberry bog, learned about edible plants in the woods, and then, Proulx said, there was a day they toured the beaches.

“The day I’ll never forget,” he said.

On one of the beaches, the camp counselor, Dan, took the group to an area of erosion.

“It resettled in this beautiful wall of earth,” said Proulx. The soil was striated in multi-colored layers.

 “It was undulated slightly – it looked like the flag of the earth waving out at the sea,” he said.

While the counselor explained the different layers to most of the students, Proulx said he stood back and noticed a few students had gone around the corner of the earth-wall.

“On one side we had (the counselor’s) students extolling nature,” said Proulx. And on the other, seventh-grade boys using driftwood to carve their name and class graduation year into the soil. 

Some people would condemn what those 13-year-olds were doing, he said.

But Proulx said he didn’t. “What they were doing was an act of self-proclamation,” he said. “We all want to leave our mark on the world. Like them, I want you to declare yourselves to the world.”

“Be good,” Proulx said. “And choose your canvass more carefully than my seventh-grade friends.”

Senior Aleta Vermette already has her canvass chosen. She plans to go to Nashua Community College for their medical program, and hopefully become a nurse someday.

Vermette explained after the ceremony Saturday, “I want to do right by my community, my family and my friends. I want to help in any way I possibly can.”

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