Kearsarge senior class told to “have courage” and “be like a kid” 

By NINA MOSKE

Monitor staff

Published: 06-10-2023 4:02 PM

June was a celebratory month for Kearsarge Regional High School senior Mason Russell. Just days after he was selected as the school district’s June Student of the Month, he donned a cap and gown to accept his diploma Saturday.

Russell, described as a leader and mentor to his peers, was nominated for Student of the Month by school faculty and staff. The honor recognizes his many contributions to the Kearsarge community.

Russell has tutored his peers throughout high school and works as a teaching assistant in Lindsay Herlihy’s ninth-grade science class. He has been a member of the Student Council for four years and served as vice president his senior year. He is also the captain of the lacrosse team and a member of the swim team. Outside of school, he volunteers at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center and works as a sous chef at The Kitchen in Warner.

In a press release, Herlihy said he was an “invaluable resource” to the school.

“I do not have adequate words to express how wonderful it’s been to have [his] help in my classroom,” she said. “He immediately built strong, supportive connections with underclass members … It is so commendable that a high school senior would willingly give up early dismissal to help out in a science classroom and have fun doing it!”

At the Kearsarge football field Saturday, Russell led the pledge of allegiance before turning the stage over to a long list of speakers.

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Winifried Feneberg, superintendent of the Kearsarge Regional School District, spoke of courage and leadership.

Citing increased political polarization, advancements in technology and the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, “I believe we need all of you to become the leaders who can take on an increasingly complex and demanding world with confidence and conviction.”

“To become this kind of leader in this challenging world requires courage,” Feneberg said. “It takes courage to advocate for justice, it takes courage to speak up for those who are in need, it takes courage to spread hope, joy and optimism, it takes courage to insist in civility in dealing with disagreement, it takes courage to make the world a better place.”

Student Adison Whitty mounted the stage soon after. She began by admitting that she had not told her family she would be giving a speech at graduation. They cheered her on from the bleachers at the back of the field.

Whitty urged her peers to consider who, not what, they want to become. “To leave a mark or to achieve greatness is not to gain money or get recognition,” she said. “Greatness is to leave those with whom you cross paths a little more happiness and hope.”

After the graduates accepted their diplomas, Kearsarge principal Charles Langille Jr. moved off the stage, addressing his former students face-to-face to make an unusual request. He passed around a bag of crayons and asked the class to write thank-you notes for their families and friends. Referencing the colorful implements they now held, Langille said, “Don’t ever forget how to be like a kid.”

A kid no longer, Russell has grand ambitions after graduation. He plans to attend the University of New Hampshire and major in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology in the fall. In a release, he said, “I want to be a part of the efforts to protect vulnerable people from infectious diseases, using my understanding of science to help people have better lives.”

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