Rochester Graduates Advised To ‘Never Stop Dreaming’


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

By Martha Slater

Valedictorian Sara Domas shows off the diploma she just received from school board members Frank Russell and Tony Goupee. (Herald / Jerry LeBlond) Valedictorian Sara Domas shows off the diploma she just received from school board members Frank Russell and Tony Goupee. (Herald / Jerry LeBlond) The weather cooperated and the sun shone down on the 14 members of the Rochester High School Class of 2017 as they graduated on Saturday, June 10 on the park in Rochester village, with a happy crowd of family, friends, and community members looking on.

After the soon-to-be-grads marched in to take their traditional spot before the Civil War monument in the center of the park, juniors Hayley Mears and Kevin Kingsbury led the Pledge of Allegiance, and music teacher Holly Mugford sang the National Anthem.

Principal Danni Stamm’s address included lines from a poem by Mother Theresa. She urged her listeners to forgive people and be kind, adding, “The good you do today, people may forget tomorrow— do good anyway.”

Salutatorian Shelby Andrews spoke about how a necklace from her late grandfather reminded her that he and other family members who have passed on are still with her on her big day. She said how much she appreciated the close-knit community at Rochester High School and advised her classmates to “remember our strong ties to this community, which is a source of strength and inspiration.”

Sara Domas built her valedictory address around what she called “10 life lessons we all learned in kindergarten,” enlarging upon each of them as she spoke. They included sharing is caring, clean up your messes, hold someone’s hand (you can’t go through life alone), color outside the lines (her favorite), the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated), use your imagination, listen well, naps are important, balance is key, and be happy in life.

“Where you start does not dictate where you end up,” she added. “Never stop dreaming.”

Java Hubbard led class members in the Freeman’s Oath, before guidance counselor Dea Kimball and teacher Chris Bretschneider led the announcement of the more than $130,000 worth of awards and scholarships that were given to the Rochester High School Class of 2017 (see list below).

The guest speaker was Dr. Todd Finn, the principal of Mill River Union High School in Clarendon.

A New England native who spent 12 years of his career in the south, Dr. Finn told the class, “Your high school diplomas are the passport to the rest of your life…if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”

He went on to share a story about two farmers—one a pessimist, one an optimist—who went duck hunting together, eliciting laughs from his audience at the very different ways the two met that experience.

“Negative people are the enemy of your dreams,” he said. “Don’t let the members of the FOM (Fellowship of the Miserable) kill your dreams—be the optimistic farmer and don’t stop believing in yourself!”

Principal Stamm certified the new graduates and diplomas were presented to each one, along with a long-stemmed white rose. The graduates were then asked to go into the audience and present that rose to someone there who had inspired them. After hugs and a few tears, Principal Stamm led the new graduates in the traditional “turning of the tassels,” before their caps were tossed skyward to cheers and applause, and the Class of 2017 formed a line on the west side of the park to receive more hugs and congratulations.


Advanced Illuminations Scholarship, Nimue Washburn; Damian Sleath Memorial Award, Michael Crickard; Roxanne Sue Curtis Bowen Memorial Award, Brianna Hillier; Rodney L. Johnson Scholarship, Brianna Hillier; Route 100 Lions Club awards: Shelby Andrews, Michael Crickard, and Brianna Hillier; Kyle Joseph Lizotte Award, Michael Crickard; Inner Traditions “Go For It” Award, Brianna Hillier; “Packy” West Scholarship Award, Ben Harvey; Stephen Bloch Memorial Awards: Tony Burke, Michael Crickard, Nimue Washburn, and Brianna Hillier; Upper Valley Teachers Association Award, Brianna Hiller.

Auxiliary of Gifford Medical Center Scholarship, Shelby Andrews; Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and Lake Sunapee Bank Award, Nimue Washburn; Bethel Area Rotary Scholarship, Michael Crickard and Brianna Hillier; Daughters of the American Revolution Award, Michael Crickard; John Baker Memorial Scholarship, Sara Domas; “Just Do It” Award, Shelby Andrews and Nimue Washburn; Kirkpatrick Memorial Scholarship Award, Tony Burke; Marie Crovat Award, Shelby Andrews; Martin Farms Appreciation Award, Alex Munyon; NFP Insurance Scholarship, Michael Crickard.

PDC Royal Sheeley Educational Award, Sara Domas; Rochester Fire Department Award, Sarah Chase and Ben Harvey; Rochester School PTO Award, Shelby Andrews and Brianna Hillier; Route 110 Snow Travelers Scholarship, Alex Munyon; Sleath Memorial Scholarship, Ben Harvey; Society of Women Engineers Merit Award, Shelby Andrews, Sara Domas, and Brianna Hillier; Special Faculty Award, Alex Munyon; Village School Award, Michael Crickard; White River Credit Union Scholarship, Tony Burke.

Wings Scholarships: Tony Burke, Chloe Graham-Frock, and Nimue Washburn; VSAC Honors Scholarship, Shelby Andrews; Vermont Scholars Award, Brianna Hillier; Vermont State Colleges Award, Sara Domas and Shelby Andrews; and Huntington House Scholarship, Brianna Roussell.

RHS Grads & Plans

•Shelby Andrews, Vermont Technical College;

•Brandi Brown-Bowen, working world;

•Anthony Burke, Vermont Technical College;

•Sarah Chase, working world;

•Michael Crickard, Castleton University;

•Sara Domas, University of Vermont;

•Chloe Graham-Frock, Stockton University;

•Benjamin Harvey, working world;

•Brianna Hillier, University of Vermont;

•Alex Munyon, Advanced Welding Institute;

•Brianna Roussell, nursing school;

•Brandon Stone, working world;

•Nimue Washburn, George Washington University;

•Marina Wennik, working world.

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