Cheers to the AHS Class of 2017

June 23, 2017


by Laurie Jasper

The Class of 2017 entered SNHU Arena in Manchester on Thursday, June 15, to cheers, smiles and waves from family and friends.  Alvirne Concert Band played “Pomp and Circumstance” as 319 young men and women, robed in the maroon and gold school colors, joined together one last time as classmates at the 7 p.m. ceremony.

Dean of Academics Susan Bureau introduced the members of the Hudson School Board and Alvirne administrators who were seated on the stage.  Salutatorian Michael Earl was the first speaker of the evening.  Earl shared that he will be attending the University of Oklahoma to study engineering, saying it is over 1,700 miles and 30 hours by car from Hudson.

“We are certain of one thing – uncertainty,” said Earl.  “Through hoping we make things happen.  Be confident in the path you choose even though you may not know where it leads …  Embrace the uncertainties and believe in yourself.  God Bless,” Earl concluded.

Next, District Director of School Counseling William Hughen presented the Chester Steckevicz Award to Noah Bellomo.  This annual award was established in 1973 in memory of former Alvirne Principal Steckevicz, principal from 1957 until 1972.  He died suddenly on June 10, 1972, at age 49, shortly before graduation.  Recipients must be dependable, ethical, strong of character, ambitious and have a strong desire to help the Alvirne community.  Bellomo, a scholar, school and community volunteer and track star who holds several indoor and outdoor records, will attend the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in the fall.

Valedictorian Grace Carter began her speech by thanking her family, “… probably the only people in here more nervous than I am,” she said.  Carter, who plans to major in marine biology, likened her classmates’ futures to the ocean.  “We can learn when to float with the current, to go against the current and when to surf,” Carter said.  Quoting Albert Einstein, Carter said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”  She concluded by stating you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.  “Let us choose to surf,” Carter said.

Under the direction of choral teacher Michael Gallagan, the B-Naturals performed Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”  The B-Naturals was comprised of a mix of graduating seniors and underclassmen, and the Class of 2017 joined in clapping along.

Class of 2017 President Shane Coughlin, who will be attending St. Michael’s College in the fall, said June 15, 2017, is a crucial date.  Coughlin, who was also the student representative to the school board for the past two years, reflected on his class’s Bronco events and accomplishments such as winning Video Night not once but twice, a recent unforgettable prom experience and the passage of the warrant article for the new track.

In his principal’s message, Steven Beals said he sees himself as a teacher and a role model, and more importantly someone who has shown mutual respect and genuine care for the students.  “I hope that I have modeled cooperation, kindness and humility,” Beals said.  Beals then proceeded to address the class in their “language” with a list of sage advice.  In a booming voice, Beals said, “1.  Keep dumb stuff out of your bodies!”  2. You are not invincible to risk-taking behaviors.  Drive with caution, seat belted and hands free!”  As an aside to number 2, Beals jokingly warned the students there will not always be a handsome guy in a green vest every morning in the parking lot to help them (referring to himself).  “3. Put down your damn cell phones and talk to each other!  4. Reduce your social media presence.  If you wouldn’t say it to Grandma, don’t post it!  5. Finally, don’t stop believing.  Optimism is better than pessimism.  Eeyore was a lonely donkey,” Beals said to thunderous applause.  “Next week I will miss you.  This week I can’t wait to get rid of you.  Be well.  Be kind.  Care about people,” finished Beals.

Hudson School Board Chairman Lee Lavoie and Interim Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Schlichter distributed the diplomas at center stage, from Aldana to Zodda, as each graduate’s name was read.  All graduates received a Bronco Nation bracelet and window decal from Principal Beals before exiting the stage.

After the presentation of diplomas, Beals called four students to the stage to be recognized for perfect attendance for all four years at Alvirne:  David Bitler, Samantha Brownrigg, Shawn Lavoie and Shane Coughlin.  Beals next asked parents and relatives of all the graduates to stand and be recognized, followed by faculty and staff.  Retiring District Music Director Gerry Bastien received a standing ovation as he and the band were also lauded.

Suddenly, beach balls were airborne among the graduates as two songs – “Congratulations” by Post Malone, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey had the group up and dancing at their seats.

“Seniors, seniors don’t be shy, let me hear your battle cry,” shouted Coughlin before instructing the Class of 2017 to move their mortarboard tassels to the left.  With that, the Class of 2017 followed the class marshals out of the arena and onto the next chapters of their lives.