Coe-Brown grads accept ‘the tickets to the rest of our lives’

  • Salutatorian Ryu Kondrup waxes philosophical during his address during the commencement exercises. NICK REID / Monitor staff

  • Coe-Brown Northwood Academy graduated nearly 200 seniors as the Class of 2016. NICK REID / Monitor staff

  • Graduating seniors give high-fives to their peers after they accept their diplomas at the Coe-Brown Northwood Academy graduation on Friday. NICK REID / Monitor staff

  • Seniors fling their caps in the air at the end of their graduation ceremony at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy on Friday. NICK REID / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/28/2016 12:23:32 AM

The largest class ever to graduate Coe-Brown Northwood Academy flung their red-and-white caps in the air outside Smith Hall and “accepted the tickets to the rest of our lives” on Friday evening.

That’s how senior Jake Scarponi termed the key moment of the public academy’s 147th commencement, when 191 high school seniors went on to become college freshmen and interns, enter the workforce and join the armed services.

The valedictorian, Molly Boodey, who will attend the University of New Hampshire to study math, said the graduation ceremony will give way to “real life.” She said she expects her peers to wake up and celebrate when it hits them that their high school careers are complete. Then, when the celebrations end, “we’ll be left with an entire, empty future in front of us.”

“And this will certainly lead to what can only be described as complete and utter panic,” she said. “But I think it’s important to recognize that our time here has prepared us for this terrifying, open-ended-question style of a future.”

The seniors, who came from Northwood, Strafford, Nottingham, Barrington and Deerfield, reflected fondly on the experiences of learning the quirks of high school, attaining licenses and jobs, passing tests and slogging through college applications.

The salutatorian, Ryu Kondrup, who was accepted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Carnegie Mellon University to study architecture, warned the audience that he was going to subject them to just a little bit more math, as he mused about the vastness of the universe.

“It’s easier to take life a little bit less seriously and just enjoy it for what it is” with that perspective, he said.

Kondrup hinted momentarily that he was going to share the secret to happiness with the hundreds of graduates, teachers, staff and family packed tightly into the stuffy gymnasium, where many in the bleachers used their programs as fans. But then he revealed the truth.

“I have no idea. I’m an 18-year-old high school student – not a miracle worker. I can tell you, however, that happiness has a lot to do with your mindset. The Buddha once said the mind is everything. What you think is what you become.

“So now I think a lot about Spider-Man,” he said.

Dozens of community organizations awarded scholarships to the graduates, from the Barrington Women’s Club to a local VFW post. Headmaster David Smith said nearly $500,000 in scholarships were granted to the graduates. It was said that roughly 80 percent are going on to college, 10 percent to the workforce, 5 percent to internships and 5 percent to the armed services.

Smith said the graduating class, which was the largest in the school’s nearly 150-year history, represented the school and their communities with the utmost respect. And the community, he said, through the dozens of scholarships that students rose to gratefully accept one by one, returned the favor.

Outside, the students in their red-and-white gowns formed a large circle to greet their parents for the first time as high school graduates. They counted, “one, two, three,” and launched their mortarboards in the air in celebration.

Before they left the gym, however, Scarponi gave them one last farewell, using the famous words of their headmaster.

“And on that note,” he said as the audience joined in, “have a nice Friday.”

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