MUHS class of 2019 is reminded of ‘impermenance’

MIDDLEBURY — In a breezy commencement ceremony at Memorial Sports Center this past Saturday morning, the Addison Central School District put its stamp of approval on 113 members of the Middlebury Union High School Class of 2019.
“As I reflect on the noteworthy accomplishments and endeavors of your class, I’m struck by the creativity, action and service that you’ve aspired to,” said MUHS Principal William Lawson during his remarks.
Lawson highlighted some individual students’ accomplishments:
•Hogan Beazley was ranked as the seventh-best high school golfer in New England.
•Ian Fenster grabbed more than 100 offensive rebounds in unified basketball.
•Lacey Greenamyre won four speed skating races in Lake Placid, N.Y.
•Michael Huber earned his pilot’s license.
•Mike Odell scored 88 points in unified basketball.
•Kate Wallace was nominated by Vermont to be a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
•Grace Widelitz spent a summer at the Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany.
•Aby LaRock, Parker Beatty and Wyatt Cameron were recognized by the Burlington Free Press as “athletes to watch.”
Widelitz, who plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania, was also the class salutatorian.
In her address to the Class of 2019, she explored the challenges of growing up with social media and said that she has come to realize that “life is too short to worry about being awkward.”
Valedictorian Maisie Newbury, who will attend Brown University, spoke of the ephemeral.
“As high school comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about impermanence and its tendency to show itself at the most unexpected and inopportune moments,” she said in her address.
Using as a reference point the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, Newbury spoke philosophically about time, meaning and routines.
“It’s no secret that ultimately the institutions we invest with great meaning, and the things we do every day, change,” she said.
CATARA DONER GRINS at the MUHS graduation ceremony on Saturday.
Independent photo/Steve James
“Maybe it happens suddenly, like the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral,” she continued. “But more often it happens slowly, like the old barn behind your house that you and your best friend used to play in, falling into disrepair, so that one day you step outside to see that the roof has caved in.
“You always knew it would happen. You saw the peeling paint reveal the rotting wood. You tell yourself you never really wanted to step inside anyway. You haven’t in years. What should make today any different — right?
“It is in these moments of transition that we truly come to understand what is important to us.”
Returning to the Notre Dame fire, Newbury offered some personal reflections.
Independent photo/Steve James
“Often I’ve been asked the question, ‘If there was a fire in your house and you could only save one thing what would it be?’ And to tell you the truth, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think I would know until that moment, when my life was changing and I had to act quickly.”
When fire struck the Paris icon, Newbury suggested, people seemed to know instinctively what to take.
“Luckily, our recession out of this hockey rink will be nothing like the frantic escape from the burning Notre Dame Cathedral,” she predicted. “And no, we are not leaving Middlebury Union High School in ruins. Each of us, individually and all in good time, will decide what to take with us.
“Me: I hope to take memories of a bizarre night spent at a haunted house on the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, a strange improvised dance move called the ‘salad toss,’ a frantic search for ice cream on Memorial Day, and a perfect plane to nowhere; listening to that song, on that drive, windows down, with all the people I love most in the world and in this room.”
HEATHER CLOUTIER (LEFT) and Nic Clark (center) are among the new Middlebury Union High School graduates watching their mortarboard fly toward the Memorial Sports Center rafters at the close of their ceremony and the start of the rest of their lives.
Independent photo/Steve James
ACSD Superintendent Peter Burrows told graduates that the world needed them to remain present.
“What e.e. cummings said was so true,” he suggested. “To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you into everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
Burrows then announced the recipients of 80 awards and scholarships earned by the Class of 2019, which totaled more than $100,000.
Graduates collected their diplomas amidst sometimes thunderous applause, and they all marched out into a brilliant, sunny Vermont afternoon.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]

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