BENNINGTON >> Southern Bennington County saw 238 of its sons and daughters take their first steps into a wider world on Friday, with the graduation of Mount Anthony Union High School's Class of 2016.
The ceremony took place under a clear sky on the school's football field. The school's band, under the direction of Marjorie Rooen but devoid of its seniors, performed the traditional processional, Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," as the students filed to their seats, two by two. Once everyone was seated, class treasurer Damon Burgess led those assembled in the Pledge of Alliegance, and the national anthem was performed by Benjamin Bushee, Sophie Bylina, Garrett Derosia, and Abby Hensley.
The opening remarks were delivered by principal Glenda Cresto. "It has been my privledge to spend the year with some pretty remarkable seniors, all members of the Class of 2016," she said, "They have grown wise over the last four years. They have learned from their mistakes, and from their experiences."
"Thank you class of 2016 for continuing the tradition of Patriot Pride that began here at Mt. Anthony Union High School 50 years ago," she said in conclusion, "Go for it!"
Before giving her speech, class president Kathryn Fraiser called math teacher Chad Gordon "Thank you to my parents, and all the parents who helped us get this far," she said. "It's said that high school is the best four years of your life. I sincerely hope that is not the case, because if that were true what would there to be to look forward to? If, in six years, you look back and say MAP testing, research papers, and getting kicked out of prom (you know who you are) were the best years of your life you did something wrong." She challenged her classmates to go forward and make new best years, while holding on to the great memories they made at MAU.
"When you leave here for the next chapter of your life, and somehow manage to get lost, don't be afraid to come home," said salutatorian Kelsey Sherman, "Always remember, right here, right now, where it all began. It can't get any better than this."
The final student to speak was class valedictorian Asuka Kosaki. "Throughout my high school career," she said, "I've learned everyone was different. We've challenged ourselves in different areas, but we've all had the same goal; To be the best we can be."
"We've got this!" she concluded.
This year's faculty speaker was assistant principal Mike Molloy, who was chosen by the students to speak. He spoke about the four core pillars by which he lives his life: Family, service, gratitude, and character. "With a strong foundation, something special can build, blossom, and develop. You're taking a big step today," he said, "You're ready. So get busy and live a life you can be proud of."
While most of the class awards were presented at a ceremony earlier this month, as always, one was saved for graduation; The Senior Patriot Award, which was presented by assistant principal Chris Barnes. The award was given to Sierra White, for embodying all the qualities MAUHS tries to instill in its students.
Members of the Mount Anthony Union school board presented diplomas to students, starting with Fraiser, and the new graduates were presented as a whole by Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union superintendent Jim Culkeen.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.