Bishop Brady grads celebrate memories and achievement

By JACQUELINE COLE

Monitor staff

Published: 06-10-2023 2:39 PM

At the Bishop Brady High School graduation on Friday, Lori Christerson was able to hand her own son his diploma.

Ethan was a freshman in his mother’s honors biology class, where she was able to see his mind work in a completely different context than she was used to. This year, he was a senior in her anatomy class.

Lori has been teaching at Bishop Brady since 2012. For her, teaching is “the perfect marriage between having a career and having a family.” It means carpools to work with her son in the morning, and dinner discussions about how her science classes can improve.

“I didn’t really have to remember when the homework was due because I knew I could just ask her,” Ethan, said.

Ethan graduated on Friday night and will be going off to study business at UNH next fall. Lori has watched him grow as a son, an athlete, and importantly, as a student.

“It’s such a unique perspective to be able to see so many different angles of not only your life, but your child’s life,” Lori said.

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Though this mother-son dynamic could be misinterpreted as an unfair advantage for Ethan, Lori sees every student as part of her family. “All of my students are, in a sense, my kids,” she said.

That is why, on Friday night at Bishop Brady, Lori saw 65 of her “other children” graduate.

Bishop Brady’s graduation opened with ceremonial bagpipes, followed by the procession of the graduates to the sound of students playing Pomp and Circumstance.

The graduates sat in front of the auditorium, their colorful and often hilariously decorated caps gazing back at the packed crowd of proud parents, siblings and loved ones.

Nicholas Steigmeyer gave his salutatory address, decorated with quotes from Walt Whitman about living in the present, and shoutouts to his family. “Prepare for the future, but don’t obsess in it,” Steigmeyer said. “Learn from the past, but don’t harp on it. And live in the present without forgetting it,” he advised the class.

“Heck, I think I’m finally starting to take some of my mom’s advice to heart.” The crowd giggled at his words.

Senior choir members sang “Seasons of Love” in harmony. Principal Andrea Elliot recognized those parents who keep Bishop Brady alive — each speech calling attention to an individual’s devotion to coaching basketball, attendance at fundraisers, or driving buses to field trips. This was not only a graduation for students, but a recognition of the school overcoming a challenging four years.

The valedictorian, Maxwell Brooks, centered his speech around the unimportance of his title. After working as hard as he possibly could in high school, he came away with two things, he said. An impressive transcript, and the title of valedictorian, “which is a nice accolade, but doesn’t necessarily improve my life in any meaningful way.”

“What will still matter 10 years from now is not grades, or awards, or even this speech,” Brooks continued. “It’s that random memory from freshman biology class when Chrissy G. and I had a wrestling match on the floor. I lost.” He reminded the graduates that making memories is far more important than the tasks on your to-do list.

Brooks gave his final words of advice to the class. “Remember, it’s not that deep.”

Finally, each graduate’s name was called, as loved ones shoveled through the audience to take a good picture of this proud moment. Lori presented Ethan’s diploma, a product of the school’s tradition of allowing faculty to present diplomas to their relatives, which, on Friday, included a grandmother presenting to her grandchild.

Lori is proud of who Ethan has become — an impressive athlete who wants to continue to play club hockey at UNH, a devoted student, and an incredible son. “He is the teammate you want on your team, not only because they have skill, but also because they know their role,” she said about her son.

Ethan is sad but ready to be leaving his mother’s classroom. “It’s definitely bittersweet,” he said,” “I’m just excited to move on with my life and become an adult.”

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