DORSET — As a steady drizzle fell under gray skies there was no way the weather could dampen the spirits of 31 Long Trail School seniors who graduated under a tent on the school’s campus Friday, May 28.
LTS head of school Seth Linfield welcomed attendees and told the graduates that he could not be prouder of them for all they had been through and the work ahead.
“You will lead a generational reconstruction,” Linfield said. “In a time of disruption such as this, fresh approaches will come from you. You have shown your resilience, adaptability, and patience. Now your creativity will flourish, in frames both local and global.”
Linfield told the audience that the LTS Class of 2021 had earned acceptance to 91 colleges and devoted 5,185 hours to community service.
“Your class is about the excitement of transformation, about cultivating that fusion of knowledge, motivation, and ethics that will equip you to generate change,” Linfield said. “Wherever you go — each with your own particular gifts — may you be a true servant leader, learning with the same curiosity as here at Long Trail, principled, caring, faithful to justice, and eager for truth.”
And, Linfield told the graduates they would always have a home at LTS.
“Whatever turns your path takes, everyone here today will always love you — and you will be welcome home on campus,” he said.
Long Trail does not rank students so there are no valedictorian or salutatorian speeches. But all 31 graduates had a few minutes to offer a speech, recite a poem or offer a performance.
There were humor, questions, advice, theories, pontifications, philosophy, memories, tears and dozens of expressions of gratitude offered.
Despite the variety in the speeches, there was one recurrent theme — the impact of COVID-19 on their high school careers and the difficulties it brought.
Some honored a person. Molly Sanderson read a tribute to her grandfather and Abby Mega-Coombs honored her mother, LTS Dean of Academics & Faculty Mary Ellen Mega.
Others chose teachers or faculty who helped them along the way.
Rachel Lin spoke of a difficulty she experienced and a staff member who stepped up to help make her high school years better before reading a poem, “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest.
Some of the graduates looked back.
Tim Keeler remembered a rough fifth-grade year that led him to Long Trail where he found acceptance and kindness from everyone he met.
Maya Marcy read a letter to her freshman self, offering advice on what she would learn over the next four years.
Charlie Tifft has the longest tenure of any graduate, starting her LTS journey as an infant next to her mother’s desk at the school.
“I’m leaving home,” Tifft said. “Not home as in my little plot of land in Danby, but Long Trail School itself.”
Others looked ahead to the future.
Audra Marcus spoke about comfort zones and taking the next steps in her journey as she is now forced to leave the comfort of LTS.
Jaren Gallo talked about his plans to become a professional musician and Austin Carr told the crowd that in seven years he would be attorney Carr. Josh Mega-Coombs said he had discovered a passion for teaching and farming.
Soren Ericksen referenced his love of metal detecting and history and compared the hunt for treasure to his future with only a few clues to begin the search for his future.
Jade Marantz tackled the question of the mysticism of existence and said it “has led me to the goal of immersing myself in the wonder, the beauty, the chaos and confusion that is life as an inhabitant of Earth.”
Ben Park spoke for himself, and then also read a speech by exchange student Yutao (Martin) He, who was already back in China.
Estella Doulis thanked family, students and teachers and said, “I am proud to call this community my family.”
Sophia Vickery drew laughs when she said she liked all her classes and all of her teachers, and had tolerated her fellow graduates. “Just kidding! I like all of you guys.” She also thanked her teachers, family and “whatever higher power helped me pass IB.”
And Chamberland Willette also went straight for the punchline before he launched into a jam on his bass guitar instead of a speech.
“I won’t bore you with a speech,” he said. “Because I didn’t write one.”
When it was over, the students filed out into the open sky and with the rain continuing to fall, formed a circle and defied the elements one more time to throw their caps high into the air.
LTS 2021 Graduates
Demi Adepoju, Jaden Bauch, Isabel Blankenbaker, McKinley Bremel, Austin Carr, Nancy Dominic, Estella Doulis, Soren Ericksen, Jaren Gallo, Henry Harding.
Yutao (Martin) He, Timmy Keeler, Rachel Lin, Emma Luikart, Jade Marantz, Audra Marcus, Maya Marcy, Georgia McClellan, Abigail Mega-Coombs, Josh Mega-Coombs.
Cade Morris, Lucinda Monder, Mamie Mulder, Kylie Noblet, Ben Park, Molly Sanderson, Alex Stefurak, Charleigh Tifft, Sophia Vickery, Lillie Wildman, Chamberland Willette.