BLANCHARD — Montabella High School’s class motto this year is, “It is our choices that show who we really are, far more than our abilities.” The importance of those choices was touched upon by nearly every speaker at Sunday evening’s commencement ceremony.
Of the class of 2017’s 44 graduates, all are entering a world filled with challenges. It is how the grads face these challenges and the perspectives they form in the process that will define their generation.
Following the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” processional and the singing of the National Anthem, Montabella High School Principal Shane Riley touched on these perspectives. Riley quoted extensively from a student essay titled, “School, a Waste of Time.”
“This was the perspective of a frustrated student,” Riley explained. The essay touched on issues such as “helicopter parents” and the likelihood that algebra would never be used in “real life.”
This student’s perspective, Riley went on to explain, while possibly valid, was not the only point of view.
“We have to try to understand the perspective of the people around us,” he told the graduates. “That can be hard to do. It’s not about compromising your beliefs, but you’ve got to understand your opinions are not the only opinions in the room.”
Riley added that, as with all things, perspectives have a way of changing over time. “Try to imagine your perspectives four, eight, 10 years from now,” he said.
Graduating senior Keeley Nemeth took the stage next to share her memories of growing up with the class of 2017. The benefits of attending a smaller school, she said, are many.
“One of the best things about school is we learned to grow up together,” Nemeth said. “We have learned that procrastinating can make for some stressful nights.”
Nemeth also noted her class has been referred to as the “selfie generation,” and said she would “regret it forever” if she didn’t take a selfie of herself addressing the class, which she did, to laughter and applause.
The salutatory address was delivered by Sidney Lint, who advised her classmates to take time to reflect on all the great memories they have built during their time at Vestaburg. She spoke briefly about the changes the class has gone through since elementary and middle school.
“During middle school, we learned it’s OK to express ourselves even if we end up in trouble,” she said. “We really did learn how to be more mature in high school. We learned life isn’t always fair and that we just have to make the best of it.
“The past is something we can all learn from. No matter what you do, you should give it your all.”
Following Lint’s remarks, the Montabella High School band performed a rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” by Queen.
Madison Cutler then delivered the valedictory address. Cutler elicited laughter with her opening remark, “I can’t promise you a good speech, but I can promise you a short one.”
She went on to make note of both the good and bad points of growing up and going to school in a small town. It’s good that everyone knows everyone, she said, but the other side of that coin is that “everyone knows your business.”
This small town “closeness” can lead some students to feel confined by the perceptions of others, she added.
“Kids here can sometimes feel trapped,” Cutler said. “But it doesn’t have to be that way, at least not anymore. High school is just a dry run for real life. This is your fresh start. Everything from here on begins and ends with you.”
A Powerpoint presentation, courtesy of Eryn Raglin, provided a visual stroll through the past four years of school. Riley then presented the class to the gathering. Diplomas were awarded by Montabella Superintendent Shelly Millis and the Board of Education.