BERLIN — During commencement exercises Friday night, White Mountains Community College bid good luck to the Class of 2014 while also saying good-bye to an administrator and longtime friend of the school.
Part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, WMCC was established in 1966.
WMCC awarded about 200 graduates, many in their late teens, but others considerably more mature, with associates degrees in 22 programs and certificates in 30 others.
The commencement took place in a large tent on the south lawn of the WMCC campus on Route 16.
The tent came in handy, as intermittent drizzle and occasional raindrops fell during the proceedings.
As children played outside the tent, Mike Cryans, a Grafton County commissioner and a longtime friend of the late District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton, addressed the attendees.
Burton, died Nov. 12 at his home in Bath following a battle with liver cancer. At the time of his death, Burton was New Hampshire’s longest-serving executive councilor and a member of the Grafton County Commission. However, Cryans said he was first and foremost an educator.
Cryans — who received an honorary degree from WMCC on behalf of Burton’s surviving siblings — noted Burton graduated from Plymouth State College, had worked in the Andover and Warren school districts, and was also an instructor at Springfield College for more than three decades.
Known for his habit of carrying index cards on which he wrote things he had to do, Cryans said Burton would have told the WMCC graduates that the commencement was the start of new things, not an end in itself.
WMCC President Katharine Eneguess, who has been president of White Mountains Community College since 2004 and is leaving in June to pursue opportunities within the Community College System of New Hampshire, recalled that Burton would frequently call her and tell her they had work to do.
Nearly as frequently, she added, Burton would turn down an honorary degree from WMCC, saying to give the award to someone more deserving.
State Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, delivered the keynote address. A Democrat, Woodburn was deeply indebted to Burton, for whom he was an intern. A former state representative, as well as an entrepreneur, writer, teacher and child advocate, Woodburn commended the WMCC graduates for their accomplishments and told them to keep striving.