In Pittsfield, best friends are also co-salutatorians

  • Co-salutatorians Marissa Ware, left, and Olivia Tobin in front of Pittsfield Middle High School Saturday. SARAH DONOVAN / Monitor staff

  • Marissa Ware, left, Annebelle Cote, center, and Olivia Tobin display their decorated graduation caps. SARAH DONOVAN / Monitor staff

  • Stacey Nilsson embraces her son, Trevor Mills, after he gave her a white carnation as a thank you during the special presentation. SARAH DONOVAN / Monitor staff

 Monitor staff
Published: 6/10/2023 4:24:46 PM

Olivia Tobin knew exactly who to thank as she stepped to the podium. It was the person right by her side.

“My first thank you goes to my best friend,” said Tobin to her best friend Marissa Ware. Matching in colored cords and embellished caps, the girls took to the Pittsfield Middle High School stage to deliver their graduation speech as co-salutatorians.

Ware and Tobin have been inseparable since the fifth grade. When asked what Tobin thought about being co-salutatorians, she said that she found it funny. 

“Of course it was us,” Tobin said with a laugh. She recounted how she and Ware have been the best of friends, always attached at the hip. When one of them would go somewhere without the other, people would ask, “Where’s your friend?” So naturally, Tobin described how the administration decided to name them co-salutatorians, as their final grades were just a hair shy of each other. 

Ware and Tobin shared clips of letters that they both wrote to their future selves when they were younger, and urged classmates to follow their passions.  “We encourage the class of 2023 to follow your heart,” said Ware. Both of the girls are doing just that, post-graduation. 

Tobin will be attending New Hampshire Technical Institute in the fall for Early Childhood Education to earn her associate’s degree. Tobin, in addition to her achievements that earned her a place as a salutatorian, was inducted into the National Honors Society in 10th grade, while also balancing working at The Learning Tree daycare center in Epsom.   

York Community College is on Ware’s horizon, where she will be enrolling in Animal Care & Management in the fall to work toward her passion of becoming a professional dog trainer. She said she thinks she will enjoy the smaller campus after her high school experience where she made life-long friendships.

“Pretty much all of us have grown up together,” said Ware about her 24 other graduating peers in her class.

With just 25 graduating PMHS seniors, Ware said that most of the kids have gone to the same school together their entire lives, from elementary school on. She highlighted that the nice part of attending a small school is having a good relationship with the teachers. 

“I don’t think going to a big school would’ve given me this opportunity,” said Ware, mentioning her close relationship with Tobin, teachers, and peers. 

The close community was highlighted by Keynote Speaker Logan LaRoche’s heartfelt words to the graduating class. He both opened and closed with the statement “I may not change the world, but I can change theirs.”

LaRoche recounted how the 2023 graduating class was his first class, and he went on to thank each student for welcoming him and making his time very memorable. 

Parker Clark, senior class vice president, shared that he nominated LaRoche to be the keynote speaker as “I can’t put into words how much he has helped us,” said Clark.

Seventeen graduating seniors were awarded scholarships to assist in pursuing their higher education goals, from The Foss Family Pittsfield Town Scholarship Fund, established by Richard and Lois Foss. 

Both Tobin and Ware were awarded $3,000 scholarships, with senior class vice president Clark awarded a $3,500 scholarship, and Annabelle Cote, valedictorian, earning the highest scholarship of $4,000. 

“We are the products of the administration, parents, and peers,” said Cote, top of her class, thanking her community in her speech. Cote plans to attend New England College as a first-year nursing major in the fall. 

The special presentation of stark white carnations gifted to parents and loved ones by the graduates didn’t leave a dry eye as the commencement ceremony neared a close. 

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