Belmont High School graduates 67 seniors, with celebration and remembrance

Jonathan Holmes of Canterbury was among 67 seniors who graduated from Belmont High School on Friday.

Jonathan Holmes of Canterbury was among 67 seniors who graduated from Belmont High School on Friday. David Brooks—Monitor staff

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 06-08-2024 11:13 AM

Graduates at Belmont High School were given a valuable but unexpected piece of advice at graduation Friday. An important life skill, they were told, was the ability to fake it.

“Faking it has been a tactic of mine so many times when I’m not sure what I’m doing,” Steve Colcord, the school’s resource officer, said in his keynote address.  He noted how teenagers have to constantly fake their way through new experiences, from new schools to new courses to driver’s ed, which he said was an important life skill.

“When you get older, you’ll probably look back at these teen years as some of your most insecure. But I hope you look back at them and it inspires confidence. The confidence to look like a fool while faking it, just like you’ve been trying all these new things as kids. The potential for embarrassment is a cover charge, it’s a cost of admission,” he said. “If you are unwilling to fake it like a fool for something new, you will never get to be a master.”

The graduation diplomas were given to 67 seniors from Belmont and Canterbury, who have shared a school since in the Shaker Regional School District. Although officials from the two towns sometimes butt heads over the joint school system, it’s rarely a problem for students.

“We blend together really fast. It’s tough to remember anymore who was from Canterbury elementary and who was Belmont elementary,” said Jonathan Holmes of Canterbury. Holmes was wearing four of the medals given out by teachers for academic prowess: for French, calculus, math and anatomy/physiology.

In her speech, salutatorian LeannaRowley said that while she likes to give advice even when she doesn’t know much about the topic, this time she had gone to others “older and wiser than myself.” She said she asked family, teachers and even strangers from age 22 to 76 one question – “If you could go back and tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?”

“In other words,” Rowled said, “I convinced other people to write my speech for me.”

While the responses she got ranged from the serious to the lighthearted, one theme stood out: “Stop worrying what others think of you. None of that matters. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Too much time is wasted trying to meet the expectations of other people.”

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Valedictorian Cate McDonald mentioned a comment made by an athlete at the end of the state track meet, the last-ever such event for graduating seniors: “It’s crazy that I’m this sad at the end of a sport that has caused me so much stress.”

“The rest of us laughed because we felt the same,” McDonald said. “I think this is a perfect example of the high school experience. We have all faced challenges … they served a purpose: To ensure that when we arrived at this stage, we would be ready to move on. Standing before you today, I can tell you with great confidence that we are ready to do just that.’

One somber note arrived amid the celebration. Adam Ribeiro gave a special address remembering his friend Aaron Roberts, who drowned in 2020 after jumping off the Lochmere Trestle into the Winnipesaukee River just before he would have entered high school.

The two boys met in preschool and were soon inseparable, Ribeiro said. Aaron “was the best friend I could ask for,” someone who could “learn a kickflip just a day after getting his first skateboard.”

“Many of you seniors, like myself, may not yet know what you want to do with your life,” Ribeiro said, adding that Aaron had taught him one thing: “I encourage you all to do what makes you happy.”