The 165th commencement exercises were held at Peoples Academy on Thursday, June 13 beginning at 7 p.m. A total of 85 students graduated at the ceremony, which lasted just over an hour. Above the graduates toss their caps in the air in celebration. - Photo courtesy of D. Bain
by Andrew Martin
Peoples Academy held its 165th commencement exercises on Thursday, June 13, beginning at 7 p.m. Hundreds of family and friends packed the area around the bandshell despite threatening skies to watch the 85 graduates receive their diplomas.
The commencement ceremony kicked off with a welcome by PA Principal Phil Grant, who listed some of the numerous achievements of the Class of 2013. He then welcomed the class to come back whenever they need help, before welcoming the Peoples Academy Chorus to the stage to sing “For Good” by Stephen Schwartz.
Senior Class President Mary Fafard then introduced the commencement speaker for the event, PA English teacher Reeves Larson. After his opening remarks, Larson centered his speech on the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken.” However, he reassured the graduates that his speech was not your traditional speech based on the poem. He specifically targeted the end of the poem, which reads “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Larson explained to the students that the poem is telling them to stand out and be different.
“Zig when others zag… rock when others roll,” stated Larson.
However, Larson also explained that it can be dangerous to zig when others zag or to rock when others roll. Being different and standing out can go extremely well for an individual, but it can also go wrong depending on the situation. Among other examples he used the story of Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, who left a promising career in business to pursue music with his band at the age of 20. While this example of zigging when others would have zagged worked out, Larson explained that this is not always the case. Citing a family story, he explained how his brother-in-law attempted to zig when others zagged by riding the wave machine at the Jay Peak water park. This example of standing out did not work out, as his brother-in-law fell and separated his collarbone.
“He should have zagged with the other 45-year old dads,” Larson explained.
He continued on by stating that there are two sides of taking the road less traveled. He encouraged the students to stand out, to zig when others zag, but to do so carefully – when they feel it is proper. Larson finished his speech with more words of encouragement.
“Go get ‘em,” he ended.
Following Larson’s speech a surprise performance of a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach was performed by seniors Roland Clark and Samuel Guihan.
Principal Grant then introduced Valedictorian Sydney Lawton, who will be attending Elon University in North Carolina, and Salutatorian Lucy Merriam, who will be attending UVM. In a change of style, Lawton and Merriam, who are best friends, decided to give their addresses together. Using Dr. Seuss style poetry the pair alternated reading the story of their class, from their first day of elementary school up through high school.
“Good luck Class of 2013,” the two stated at the end of their speech.
Lamoille South Superintendent Tracy Wrend and Principal Grant then presented the various scholarships and awards to the students receiving them. Then came the part of the ceremony that the graduates had been waiting for; the presentation of diplomas. Once all the seniors had received their diplomas Principal Grant presented the Class of 2013 to their friends and families.
The traditional singing of “Dear Old P.A.” followed, complete with the throwing of caps by the graduates. The new graduates were then led out by marshalls Katherine Stames and Quinn Shane. A reception was held following graduation during which family and friends had the chance to meet and congratulate all the graduates.