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MUHS seniors praised at ceremony

ADDISON COUNTY — This past Saturday, 113 Middlebury Union High School seniors dressed in black caps and gowns paraded through Middlebury’s Memorial Sports Center as a crowd of on looking friends, faculty and family members cheered from their seats.
The graduates were met with words of praise from Principal William Lawson, who recognized the wide-ranging achievements of the class of 2015. Lawson pointed to the seniors’ athleticism, commitment to community service, and musical prowess in addition to their academic accomplishments as evidence of their success at MUHS.
“I am enormously impressed with your achievements and direction. Ninety-nine percent of you have a definitive post-graduation plan,” he said.
Many of the MUHS graduates will begin college this fall, some plan to attend technical school, and others will enter the workforce, take gap-years or enroll in the U.S. military.
“It is with enormous pride that, as principal, I send you off this stage and on to the next challenges and adventures of your future,” Lawson told the crowd.
Three student speakers, Luke Benz, Matthew Becker and Simon-Jimmy Broucke, added to the words of reflection and congratulations that characterized the ceremony. Benz, the school valedictorian who will attend Yale University in the fall, spoke first, questioning his own ability to offer meaningful wisdom to his classmates.
“How can I, at 17, guide us towards greatness, shine light on truth, and expound on the wisdom we can glean from failure and crisis?” asked Benz, who decided instead to speak with three senior Vermonters — Lucien Paquette of Middlebury (age 98), and Lincoln residents Hattie Brown (96) and Irmgard Vock (100) — to summon life advice for the graduating class. After describing the conversations he had with elderly members of the community, Benz summarized his findings.
“As we prepare to launch on our next great adventure, let’s take with us 294 years of local wisdom,” he said. “Work hard and have faith. Listen. And know that life is much easier and enjoyable surrounded by friends.”
Salutatorians Mathew Becker and Simon-Jimmy Broucke also reflected on their experiences at MUHS to offer advice to their fellow classmates. Becker described his time flying remote-controlled aircrafts as a metaphor for risk taking and the importance of failure as the graduates move on to the next phase of their lives. 
“We’re going to have to take chances to realize the reward of a dream achieved, and not let our fear keep us grounded,” said Becker.
Broucke, too, described his experience at MUHS, particularly with the noises of everyday life and with the school band, to remind his classmates of the importance of finding moments that supersede the chaos of life. 
Following departmental awards, which were granted to 12 members of the graduating class, 32 different scholarships ranging up to a value of $3,000 were presented to over 40 members of the class of 2015 by Superintendent Peter Burrow.
The school also honored six retiring faculty members with a combined total of 181 years’ experience at MUHS. The teachers were met with raucous applause and a standing ovation from the graduates and onlookers alike.
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of diplomas to each of the members of the class of 2015, who then filed out of the center to the sound of the MUHS band and cheers of congratulations. 

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