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Pembroke Academy graduates reminded to embrace differing perspectives

  • Pembroke Academy graduate Margaret Lamy clangs the cymbals during the playing of “€œInto the Joys of Spring”€ at graduation Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Robert Witham and Ashley Van Epps kiss as they prepare to march for the Pembroke Academy graduation on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Witham plans on going into the army and Van Epps wants to go into nursing. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke Academy graduates, including valedictorian Kelly Wagner (center) bow their heads for a moment of silence for lives lost in the last year during Headmaster Paul Famulari’€™s reflections during the ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Friends Samantha Miller (left) and Aminata Barway get their photo taken as they line up for the Pembroke Academy graduation on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates look around for relatives and friends at the start of the ceremony at Pembroke Academy on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Robert Witham and Ashley Van Epps prepare to march for the Pembroke Academy graduation on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Witham plans on going into the army and Van Epps wants to go into nursing. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduates march into the Pembroke Academy ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Graduating seniors march into the Pembroke Academy commencement ceremony Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Thursday, June 14, 2018

The future will bring exponential change, require unifying a divided country, and include many curveballs.

But Pembroke Academy’s 179 graduates were told Saturday they were up for the challenge.

As valedictorian Kelly Wagner looked out over her peers sitting on Pembroke Academy’s field under a blue sky, all wearing green and white, she noted that her classmates at the regional high school hadn’t all come from the same place – some hailed from Chichester, some Pembroke, others Epsom or Allenstown.

And she remembered a lyric from the band Twenty One Pilots: “A kitchen sink to you is not a kitchen sink to me.”

The song was not, of course, about household appliances, she said, but instead about how people have different perspectives when it comes to just about anything.

“Currently, we live in a politically charged and polarizing environment,” Wagner said. The country is also massive, she added, with about 327 million people, each with a different background, education and perspective.

“With so many differences, it almost makes sense why we are a country divided. I say almost, because it actually makes no sense at all. Different does not mean divided,” she said.

So she urged her classmates to be open and receptive to the different perspectives of others.

“If you can understand, and accept, and that your kitchen sink, and my kitchen sink, are not the same, then that’s the first step to compromise and unity,” she said.

Salutatorian Kyle Mitchell warned against the coming “whirlwind” of technological change and urged his peers to keep educating themselves after graduation.

“Learn as much as you can today. And prepare as much as you can tomorrow. We can only see a little bit into the future. But we can see a drastic change.”

Headmaster Paul Famulari opened his speech with a moment of silence “for those we have lost along the way this year and as a result have left a void in our school community.”

A Pembroke Academy student died earlier this week, just days before commencement. School officials have declined to identify the student, but grief counselors were available at the school during the week.

The bulk of Famulari’s speech took its theme from a conversation he had had with a student, Megan Stone, who had teased him by pointing out that a sign in the lunchroom barring the school’s unofficial motto – “How should I live my life?” – was crooked.

She was right.

“The astounding thing about this conversation, is the not-so-subtle irony in the fact that fundamental prompt for our essential question – how should I live my life? – is slightly imperfect,” he said.

Imperfections are to be expected, Famulari said, and it would be up to the graduates to take charge.

“Quite plainly and simply though: when you find that your life is somewhat left-of-center, you must re-evaluate, re-calibrate, and re-situate yourselves so that you are happy with your position in life. And guess what, hotshots? No one is going to do that for you.”

“You must center your sign,” he added later. “And no, I don’t even know what that means.”

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)