Thornton Academy graduating seniors march to Hill Stadium on Sunday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Thornton Academy graduating seniors march to Hill Stadium on Sunday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

SACO — Thornton Academy Headmaster Rene Menard addressed the 350 members of the class of 2017 at Sunday’s graduation ceremony. He said though there were both good days and challenging ones, all members of the class persisted until the job was done.

Menard told students as they enter the next stage of life, Thornton Academy would always be rooting for them. He said that though they were graduating, they were still connected as alumni.

 “Remember that wherever you go, you will always be a part of our community,” he said.

Valedictorian Annabel Winterberg, after researching speeches from past graduations at Thornton, drew from the wisdom a number of speakers from graduations dating back to 1900.

Graduating seniors at Thornton Academy hold on to their caps as wind blows through the campus on Sunday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Graduating seniors at Thornton Academy hold on to their caps as wind blows through the campus on Sunday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

One of those she referenced was the 1995 Class Speaker Joshua Chenard, who said in his speech that graduation was a turning point in life, and told his classmates to “Suck all the sweetness out of life. Be successful, be happy.”

Winterberg told her fellow members of the Class of 2017 that they were part of a long history and a great tradition, and that their stories did not stop after graduation day. She said though some of them may feel like they may not know how to navigate the world beyond high school, they weren’t the first, and would not be the last, to begin the journey.

Thornton Academy graduating seniors assemble Sunday at Hill Stadium.  LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Thornton Academy graduating seniors assemble Sunday at Hill Stadium. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Class speaker Lucy Macomber presented her speech as a rap, and invited students to clap along as she recited it. Macomber chanted her rhyme, reminiscing about the years in school and everything she and her peers had accomplished. “Take what you will from your time here, but always remember this, you can do anything you set your mind to, and you can make a difference,” she said.

Faculty speaker Mike Nelson, a history teacher and dormitory parent said as a commencement speaker, some may have expected him to arrive with “a complete, do-it-yourself success kit” — a clear-cut map to the future — with the key to navigating it as elegantly and profitably as possible.

 However, he said, he wasn’t one to make policies or follow rules. Instead, he made decisions, and he was extremely uncomfortable laying down laws or mapping the future for anybody.

Nelson told students to make personal discoveries rather than take prescribed routes, and invent their individual journey rather than imitating others. He said they would learn from their successes as well as their mistakes and dumb decisions.

One of the lessons Nelson prescribed to the students was to be informed. He told them to not only figure out what they believed in, but why, and to try to remain unbiased and learn facts about an issue before deciding a viewpoint.

“Be passionate. Fight for what you think is right, but make sure you know what it is you are fighting for,” said Nelson. “We have become a world of scrollers, likers, sharers and re-tweeters. But when it comes to real issues, hard issues, difficult issues, I know you cannot be informed in 148 characters or less.”

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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