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'We are the future,' Windham grads told

By RYAN LESSARD
Union Leader Correspondent

June 15. 2018 10:06PM
Members of Windham High School's Class of 2018 prepare for Friday night's graduation ceremony. (Ryan Lessard/Union Leader Correspondent)

WINDHAM — Windham High School’s Class of 2018 holds a special place in the heart of Principal Stephen Sierpina. That’s because they’re his first graduating class as a high school principal.

In his remarks to graduating seniors Friday night, Sierpina recalled how nervous he was when he started his new role. And he thanked a number of students for making him feel welcome and helping him with the transition.

Sierpina said the class represents all that’s great about Windham High School.

“Continuing with this theme of nervousness, most recently I worried about Senior Prank Day,” Sierpina said. “There were many sleepless nights for me as I kept imagining all that could happen and at the same time remembering what I was like as a high school senior.”

But Sierpina said he was thankful when his worst fears were not realized and the students “used good judgment” on that day.

School board Chairman Dennis Senibaldi spoke to the class on the theme of “What did it take to get here?” He encouraged the graduates to look at their teachers and remember how they pushed them to work harder, and to look at their families and acknowledge how they supported them throughout high school.

“When the naysayers tell you something can’t be done,” Senibaldi told the class, “just smile back and say, ‘Have you met me?’”

He read the names of the students going on to military service — Renee Boudreau, Paul Hynes, Garrett McPhail, Thomas Page, David Tello, and Senibaldi’s own son, Michael Senibaldi. The elder Senibaldi choked up when he spoke his son’s name. And some students wiped away tears as he emotionally applauded those students for following the call of duty.

Class President Luke Leonard said the Class of 2018 was able to leave its mark on the school and the school left its mark on them. He read quotes from fellow classmates about their thoughts from their time there, which included “Windham High School is home” and “WHS is pretty lit.”

Leonard told current juniors that they will make great seniors, and encouraged his class not to settle for the mundane, and to tackle issues head on.

“We are the future, we are the hope and we are the change,” Leonard said.

Valedictorian Scarlett Souter spoke about the importance of keeping a balanced perspective on things.

Souter said seniors learned many things in the past four years, but added that a lot of the things they learned will fall away from memory over time.

Instead, she said they will remember the feelings they felt, “the cool autumn breeze while sitting on the big hill under Friday night lights” and the thrill before a performance on stage. And they’ll remember the bond they made with their classmates, Souter said.

Souter shared the importance of reframing negative feelings or memories or labels by looking back on them with renewed focus on positive moments and people. The choice was theirs, she told the class.

“And that’s a powerful thing,” she said.

For example, she said she had been labeled a “nerd” by many of her friends.

“I embraced that label and decided to be the best nerd I can be,” Souter said.

And there are many superlative students who didn’t get recognized by the school, she said, but they are no less important.

“We can recognize our own merit and we can recognize the accomplishments of others,” she said.

Quoting Henry David Thoreau, she urged her fellow classmates to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

Salutatorian Jason Domogala and Superintendent Richard Langlois also spoke during the ceremony.

The commencement speaker was Associate Justice Patrick Donovan of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

ldnews@unionleader.com


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