Bernie Sends off SoRo Class of 2017

SoRo Graduation-1787.jpg

Front Page / Jun. 15, 2017 8:42am EDT

Graduation 2017
By Jo Levasseur

South Royalton honored the Class of 2017 with a commencement ceremony on the green Saturday, which featured guest speaker Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Herald / Tim Calabro)South Royalton honored the Class of 2017 with a commencement ceremony on the green Saturday, which featured guest speaker Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Herald / Tim Calabro)At South Royalton High School’s 123rd graduation ceremony last Saturday, Senior Class President Cameron Kimball introduced Senator Bernie Sanders as the man he wished were president (of the United States), and a person who has spent his entire life fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves.

Senator Sanders began by congratulating the Class of 2017, saying “There’s so much to be grateful for growing up in a town like this,” and though they may leave, they’ll never forget the sense of community and belonging.

Sanders offered “an apology in a sense” that the world graduates are entering into is not such a pleasant world, saying it’s imperative that they do better than those currently in power have done to preserve the planet for future generations. He is “embarrassed to tell you” that “in Congress and in our highest level of government, there’s more interest in profit and the fossil fuel industry than in preserving the planet.”

Climate change is real, he told them, but it’s not only climate change that’s a threat, American democracy is threatened by the political system which allows billionaires and corporations to spend billions on elections.

Wealth inequality, the right to health care, student-loan debt, and abandonment of veterans were topics Sanders hit on. “Sadly,” he said, “there are folks who are trying to divide this nation based on religion, skin color, and country of origin. In this room, diversity is our strength.”

“Debate in a respectful manner,” Sanders urged, “but become involved. I have great confidence that the education you have received here and will receive in the future will give you strength to strengthen democracy, to fight for social, racial and environmental justice. Use the education you have received to go forward, make this world a better place.”

Graduation Ceremony

The commencement ceremony began with the traditional processional

“Pomp and Circumstance” performed by a musical ensemble of student and community members, as the 34 seniors crossed South Windsor street and filed through the middle aisle of the big tent, to the cadence set by Class of 2018 Marshals Ryan Jones, Kylen Nelson, Grace Pease, and Dominick Small.

Principle Dean Stearns welcomed friends and family and led the salute to the flag. The National Anthem was sung a capella by Maeve Neumann, Emily Ballou, Cameron Kimball, Stephen Paige, Anna Meeks, and Sarah Dunkle.

Stephen Paige gave words of welcome, reminiscing on shared experiences and bonds of friendship, saying “This is not a finish line, it’s a starting point.”

Salutatorian Maeve Naumann mentioned all of her classmates by name, and lists of “remember when” comparisons. Naumann said their lives will take different paths but that their generation will change the world, urging her classmates to vote, stand up for what they believe in, and enjoy the miracle of life.

In her valedictory address, Emily Ballou referred to the story of Peter Pan, calling SoRo School “our Neverland,” where dreams are initiated; likened inner demons and challenges to Captain Hook, and said, “This is where Neverland comes to an end.” Ballou’s 17 bits of advice to her class included: “Laundry is the only thing which should be separated by color,” and “You can’t climb the ladder to success with your hands in your pockets.”

Ballou was a finalist in an annual State of the Union essay contest sponsored by Senator Sanders and had sent messages and met with Sanders at the State House, asking if he would address SoRo’s Class of 2017 graduation.

After the presentation of awards, the vocal ensemble sang “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent.”

Scholarships & Awards

Emily Ballou: Valedictorian Award, American Legion, TRORC, SoRo Boosters Club, Joyce Hunt Memorial, Royalton Music Boosters, Rosemary McLaughlin Memorial

Ethan Britch: American Legion Post 26.

Justin Brock: American Legion, SoRo Alumni Association, Heartland Lion’s Club.

Maegan Carbino: SoRo Alumni Assoc., Heartland Lion’s Club.

Sarah Dunkle: Bethel Area Rotary Club.

Maria Duprey: Vt. Student Assistance Corp., Ideal Rebekah and Odd Fellows, WRV Ed. Scholarship.

Michael Hemond: Bethel Area Rotary.

Emma Hudson: Vt. Student Assistance Corp., Fadden Family Scholarship, SoRo Alumni Assoc., WRV Ed. Scholarship, Royalton Civics Club, SoRo Boosters Club.

Hannah Kilburn: Christianna C. Burnett Scholarship.

Cameron Kimball: SoRo PTO, SoRo Alumni Assoc., Student Council Dalton Gomez Scholarship.

Courtney Kondi: SoRo Alumni Assoc., Vt. Superintendent’s Assoc., Royalton Civics Club, Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

Anna Meeks: VLS Environmental Studies Scholarship, Todd Sears STEM Girl Scholarship, Heartland Lion’s Club, Ideal Rebekah and Odd Fellows, Rising Sun Lodge #7, Royalton Civics Club, SoRo Boosters Club.

Maeve Naumann: Salutatorian Award, Hartford Emblem Club, Chas. W. Welch Leadership Award, Heartland Lion’s Club, Royalton Civics Club, SoRo School Climate Committee.

Stephen Paige: Fadden Family Scholarship, Sean Pickett Scholarship, SoRo Boosters Club, Royalton Music Boosters.

Jayson Perron: Lake Sunapee Bank Scholarship.

Joshua Scoskie: Vt. Student Assistance Corporation.

Mara Southworth: Hartland Lion’s Club, Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

Autumn Wing: Christianna C. Burnett Scholarship.

Grads and Plans

Emily Ballou, Middlebury College; Tyler Benson; Ethan Britch, Vermont Technical College; Justin Brock, Castleton University; Katya Brown, flight attendant school; Maegan Carbino, New England School of Hair Design; Mariah Davis; Kyle Duddie, Johnson State College; Sarah Dunkle, DYU Idaho;

Maria Duprey, Lyndon State College; Michael Hemond, University of Vermont; Nicholas Howe; Emma Hudson, Castleton University; Hannah Kilburn, Vermont Technical College; Cameron Kimball, Champlain College; Courtney Kondi, Castleton University; Morgan Leonard, gap year and work in retail; Cameron Magoon; Laura Martin, University of Vermont; Jackson McClain, Norwich University;

Dalton McDougall, gap year and work in paving industry; Anna Meeks, University of Vermont; Andrew Moore; Maeve Naumann, University of Vermont; Stephen Paige, University of Vermont; Johnathan Parker; Forrest Pellerin; Jayson Perron, Lyndon State College; Amanda Pray; Phoenix Russell; Joshua Scoskie, Castleton University; Mara Southworth, River Valley Community College; Dario Spinella; Autumn Wing, Community College of Vermont.

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