Bronco Graduates Told to Take the Front Seat on the Roller Coaster of Life

June 24, 2016


by Len Lathrop

Valedictorian Julia Balukonis told her fellow 313 Alvirne graduates “we are now in control and we will continue to ride the roller coaster until it is time to step off.”  She weaved that roller coaster analogy throughout her graduation message, and a lot of eyes teared when she spoke of her parents adopting her from Hunan Province in China, when she was left on the streets.  She reflected on their roller coaster ride and of her schooling and especially about the last four years.

“We cannot solve a long and complicated equation that will explain the meaning of life.  It is the roller coaster ride of our lives that reveals the sights of an imperfect reality.”

The Manchester Verizon Arena, once again, was the venue for the celebration of the Class of 2016 appearing from both sides of the dais, to the principal dancing in the aisles, a lot was happening in the hour and 22 minute program.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by the military-bound seniors.  Principal Steve Beals acknowledged their commitment to this country and their pending service with appreciation:  Jacob Noonan, Kevin Harkins and Ray Hamelin going into the Air Force; Mike Gagnon, choosing Air Force ROTC; Josh McDowell, Ethan Rainville and Harold Leete entering the Army, while Brandon Lavalley, Chiara Freitas and Nicolette Fortin will serve with Army National Guard.  Da’Shaun Morin will report to the Marine Corp, while Paige Watts and Matt Canarelli are Navy bound.

Class Salutatorian Erin Ruigrok used a mystery novel to describe her and her fellow graduates’ journey – “I have solved the mystery of Alvirne’s fourth-floor pool.  I have solved the mystery of navigating through the Voc wing.  Most importantly, I have solved the mystery of success:   hard work and dedication really do pay off in the end.  Each of us has solved some similar mysteries in our time at Alvirne, but our novels are not complete.

“Graduates, our bodies are full of nervousness and sadness, feelings that should be overpowered with excitement and joy.  I hope that you are all proud of what you have accomplished and will accomplish, I hope you see exciting and startling things, I hope you meet people that have different points of view than you, and most importantly, I hope you live a life full of mystery.”

As is the tradition, one award is presented at graduation every year and that is the Chester Steckevicz Award.  The award is based on ethics, dependability and work effort to better Alvirne and the community.  Steckevicz was involved at Alvirne from 1952 to 1992.  Presented by Director of Guidance William Hughen, the award went to a recipient whose accomplishments include Student Athletes Council, cross country, tennis and swimming, work at the food pantry, unified sports teams, Feed Our Children, Catie’s Closet, Tri-Athletic Honor Society and National Honor Society – Erin Beals.

A few words and a picture of the stunning performance of “Somebody to Love” by Queen performed by the B-Naturals can’t be adequately described here.  When HCTV replays the graduation, stop what you’re doing and watch.  You will be amazed.

Kabir Kalsi has been the class president of the Class of 2016 for four years.  By reciting who he was with the different numbers that he has been assigned, he did stop short of giving out his social security number. He spoke about our society of numbers.  But then told his classmates, “Numbers don’t define us.  We are not machines – we are humans,” he said.  “It’s the things we are passionate about, the things we work hard to achieve, and the moments of happiness, joy, and relief that describe who we are.”

Diplomas were passed out, everyone danced and then the 2016 Alvirne graduates were sent out into the twilight and the next chapter of their lives.