Just before her graduation last week, Hinesburg Community School eighth-grader Graycen Elkins wondered where the time had gone.
“In the moment, it feels like it goes slow,” she said before the June 13 ceremony, “but I can’t remember what happened to the time.”
Parents, grandparents, friends and community members likely wondering the same thing filled 350 seats in the school gymnasium. Many others stood elbow-to-elbow along the back wall. They gathered to support this year’s 68 graduates seated on stage at the culmination of their elementary school journey.
Elkins noted that the next phase of their lives is starting soon and it comes with an expectation and marks “the beginning of the next four years.”
The gymnasium sparkled with twinkling lights and basketball hoops turned into lantern holders, on par with this year’s “enchanted forest” theme.
Co-principal John Pontius commended the work of the staff, parents and others who helped decorate for the occasion calling it “the most beautiful graduation I’ve ever seen.”
Pontius offered the graduates some words of advice, reflecting on how the students’ mistakes reminded him of his own.
He said that he was not always the best student, noting that he sometimes could be lazy in class and disobedient. However, Pontius said he turned those behaviors around and others can do the same.
“Remake yourself in high school,” he said. “Be nice and work hard – that has worked for me pretty darn well.”
Awards were handed out before diplomas. They included:
- President’s Education – Outstanding Academic Excellence Award: Elise Ayer, Lucas Barton, Kira Bergeron, Sam Decker, Graycen Elkins, Maddie Kittell, Skylar Francis, Miles Glover, Lilly Greenwood, Corinna Hobbs, Avery Murray, Ella Polli, Alex Provost, and Tom Roberts.
- Citizenship Award: Mario Robertson, Gavin Hay and Perry Bourgault.
- Academic Achievement Award: Mia Marino, Gavin Hay, Kieran Jurgenson and Will Cheney.
- Community Action Award: Graycen Elkins.
While students filed across the stage, Pontius read aloud from a list of their favorite memories that they shared ahead of time. Students mentioned a class trip to Montreal, various sports team triumphs, defeats and everything in between.
Sumner Depot recounted a story of how one day, he decided to smack his fist down on a yogurt tube. To his amusement and others’ frustration, the tube exploded and yogurt hit “everyone within a 5-foot radius,” including a teacher.
“I stood there laughing since it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done,” Depot recalled, adding that his teacher ordered him to the principal’s office.
To close out the ceremony, co-principal Suzan Locke reminded graduates to keep in mind their school’s “Be a STAR” acronym, which stands for “belonging, sharing, trust, accepting responsibility and respect.”
“No matter who you are or where you come from, there is enough space for you to belong here,” she said. “HCS (is) a home away from home.”
Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.
Essential Arts Awards
French Award – Madison Kittell, Sam Decker
Spanish Award – Elise Ayer
Music Award – Miles Glover, Lily Greenwood, Tom Roberts
Art Award – Skyler Francis, Eric (Aidan) Carroll
Physical Education Award – Alex Provost
Athletic Award – Mia Marino, Connor Brien
Drama Award – Ella Polli, Frances Murray-Gurney
Technical Theatre Award – Corinna Hobbs
Hinesburg Community School Class of 2019
Eric (Aidan) Carroll