Another school year is winding down and another class of Londonderry High School students has completed its 12-year journey to graduation day.
The commencement ceremony for the Londonderry High School Graduation took place on Friday, June 9, at the Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester, where thousands of family members and friends filled their seats to the sounds Andy Soucy’s school band.
Seniors proceeded from behind the stage and took their places in the middle of the arena around 7 p.m, preparing for their final sendoff from the LHS and School District staff.
LHS Principal Jason Parent began the event by welcoming the students and their family members. Parent noted how proud he was of the Class of 2017, not only for their academic and extracurricular activities, but also for their attitudes. “Every step of the way, you did things with grace and sophistication,” he told them. He continued by listing notable class achievements, including five LHS students receiving some of the highest PSAT scores in the country, participating in various fundraisers, excelling within the school’s sports and music programs, achieving a zero percent dropout rate for the first time in the school’s history, and having 10 students join the armed forces. He then encouraged students to go out and change the world, but also to never be afraid to revisit their roots.
As he neared the end of his speech, Parent invited Superintendent Nate Greenberg to the stage to speak, as he has always been a source of inspiration for the students.
Greenberg, who is officially retiring from his position this year, found himself in a similar position as his students: preparing to enter a next chapter of his life. Upon receiving a standing ovation from the crowd and students, Greenberg recollected the fond memories and pride during his time with the Londonderry School District, as well as the various lessons that both he and the students learned over the years. He reminded the students that they, too, should be proud of their time at LHS and the legacies of success that they will leave behind by saying, “You know you can do it because you have already done it.”
Greenberg also asked the audience to stand in order to show the seniors that throughout their entire lives, there will always be people who love and support them. They should “never forget the people who helped [them] achieve this goal.”
Following Greenberg’s speech, the valedictorian of the class, Alena Pursel, took to the stage to address her peers one last time. Pursel encouraged the students to try stepping outside of their comfort zones without being afraid to make mistakes. “Doing so could be a chance to discover something new and interesting in the process. It’s not fun living a life that is always predictable,” she said. Wishing her peers happiness and success, Pursel concluded her speech by also wishing them luck, regardless of the paths they take.
Class President Isabella Ziolek followed Pursel, began her speech by asking her fellow students to recall all the great memories they had at LHS, while also acknowledging that it is time for bigger and better things. She then reminded them to get to know as many people as possible in the future, as she found that students spend so much time in high school figuring themselves out that they forget to learn about others. Pursel was visibly proud of her peers, stating that “[They] always get the job done while always being kind.” Before exiting the stage, she said, “Home isn’t where you are, but who you’re with. This only the beginning of the next step of our lives.”
Following the presentation of a class gift by several class officers and a performance of Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway by Samantha Honeywell and Damian Bernardini, more than 350 seniors received their diplomas and proudly flipped their tassels to the left sides of their caps. With a final farewell from the staff, the Class of 2017 excitedly proceeded out the doors of the arena, off to create their own paths while making Londonderry proud in the process.