Under blue skies and picture perfect weather, Long Trail School held its 39th commencement exercises Saturday, June 7, and in keeping with the school's tradition, each graduating student made a brief statement or reflection on their experiences at Long Trail. This year's senior class offered a variety of perspectives.
"We can't predict what will happen next, nor can we be assured the next few years will go as planned," said Rebecca Edwards, one of the 23 graduates in the class of 2014. "Long Trail School has allowed many of us, or at least me, to grow into who we are. It showed me that stereotypes are not to be trusted; that judgments do not equate to wisdom, and that experiences, both good and bad, form individuals."
The class included several international students, who talked about their long journey from their home countries to here. Several spoke of their interest in the arts. Lars Lund told the audience about his passion for skiing. Ellory Lane already has a taste of college life, having taken part in an advanced placement program that allowed him to take college courses at Vermont Technical College. Others recalled their early awkwardness at the school and meeting new classmates, and the process by which they forged friendships while being pushed by their teachers to go beyond what they thought themselves capable of.
"I know the experiences and the friends I've made here have sculpted me into the person I am now and given me the courage to embark on new adventures," said Jill Brooks. "When I look back on my days at Long Trail, I will remember it as a sort of sanctum of acceptance which never failed to bolster my spirit on sad days.
Collin Campagne, who organized the quartet that performed "Good Times, Bad Times," also gave the introduction to the day's commencement speaker; Scott Worland, the chairman of the school's science department.
He described him as a teacher who "has touched the lives of each of us," and who came up with creative and inventive ways to keep his students interested and motivated.
"As my Dad said after our first meeting during a parent-teacher conference - 'wow, that guy cares way too much,' " Campagne said to widespread laughter.
After drawing on a few science analogies to note the remarkable sequence of events that brought this group of "bipedal hominids" to this place at this time, Worland told his listeners what teaching his students had given him.
They had taught him the value of being able to laugh at himself, and to show gratitude - "to simply say 'thank you,' " he said; they had also fed his passion for teaching.
He urged them to seek new experiences and understand that no type of work was beneath them.
"You may have to do something uninteresting - but do it anyway," he said.
"Know that you will face hardships and sadness and that by moving through and enduring those experiences you will build character and these struggles will be the gift you have to offer others along the way," he added.
Before the speeches were given and the diplomas handed out, the school bestowed several awards on both students, faculty members and friends of the school.
The Dorothy Peirce Faculty Award went to Michele Farkas. The Founders Award went to Kim Rizio, a teacher.
Steven Dear, Long Trail's Head of School, told the graduates that all their hard work and studying had brought them to this point, and offered them his congratulations.
"Learning how to think is more important than what to think," he said. "With that you have the tools to make very good decisions."
Members of the 2014 graduating class of Long Trail School were: Andrea Ameden, Eily Anderson, Isaiah Barnard, Lina Bergamini, Jill Brooks, Collin Campagne, Jennifer Davidson, Rebecca Edwards, Ryker Kozal, Angela Krieg, Spencer Khristiansen, Ellory Lane, Christopher LeFevre, Hanye Li, Lars Lund IV, Caitlin Owen, Hannah Phelps, Angelia Powers, Bevin Rainwalker, Olivia Stoehr, Abdul-Fatawu Sumailia, Yihe Xu, and Meng Ye Zhang.