Mascoma graduates celebrated for perseverance  

Graduating senior Sam Steinberg, right, gets a cheer from guidance counselors Stephanie Cooney, left, Ayla Steere, middle, and Eric Ramage during the procession to Mascoma High School's 59th commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. Steinberg was one of 73 seniors to receive their diplomas during the ceremony. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Graduating senior Sam Steinberg, right, gets a cheer from guidance counselors Stephanie Cooney, left, Ayla Steere, middle, and Eric Ramage during the procession to Mascoma High School's 59th commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. Steinberg was one of 73 seniors to receive their diplomas during the ceremony. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Graduating senior Connor Cantlin, right, gets a visit from his older sister Breanna Prime, of Littleton, N.H., herself a former Mascoma student, and his nephew Daniel Gola, 1, before  Mascoma High School commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Graduating senior Connor Cantlin, right, gets a visit from his older sister Breanna Prime, of Littleton, N.H., herself a former Mascoma student, and his nephew Daniel Gola, 1, before Mascoma High School commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

Logan Gilmore, left, straightens the cap of Alanna Cilbrith before Mascoma High School commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. Cilbrith decorated her mortarboard with a shell casing hat clip because she's a hunter, maple and lilac leaves and wore chainsaw tooth earrings for her plans of studying forestry.

Logan Gilmore, left, straightens the cap of Alanna Cilbrith before Mascoma High School commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. Cilbrith decorated her mortarboard with a shell casing hat clip because she's a hunter, maple and lilac leaves and wore chainsaw tooth earrings for her plans of studying forestry. "It's just a really male dominated field, so that's why the quote," she said of the sticks spelling out, "She believed she could, and so she did." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Ceeanna Crandall, right, turns Ryan Gilliland, left, away from the window where he was talking with Matthew Farewell, middle, to listen to instructions from the Mascoma High School Class of 2023 advisors before commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. Farewell was a Mascoma student before transferring to the Ledyard Charter School and graduating in 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Ceeanna Crandall, right, turns Ryan Gilliland, left, away from the window where he was talking with Matthew Farewell, middle, to listen to instructions from the Mascoma High School Class of 2023 advisors before commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. Farewell was a Mascoma student before transferring to the Ledyard Charter School and graduating in 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Isaiah Drexler, right, tries to keep his mortar board on his head as Josie Nestle, left, pulls it close to read as graduating seniors gather before commencement at Mascoma High School in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Isaiah Drexler, right, tries to keep his mortar board on his head as Josie Nestle, left, pulls it close to read as graduating seniors gather before commencement at Mascoma High School in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Amber Houston said that she went to the store for supplies to decorate her mortar board and found they were out of everything she needed, so she settled for a simple message in pencil on notebook paper to wear at Mascoma High School commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Amber Houston said that she went to the store for supplies to decorate her mortar board and found they were out of everything she needed, so she settled for a simple message in pencil on notebook paper to wear at Mascoma High School commencement in West Canaan, N.H., on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-16-2023 9:36 PM

WEST CANAAN — Resilience, strength and perseverance were the main themes of Mascoma Valley Regional High School’s graduation ceremony Friday night in the school’s auditorium.

The 73 members of the Class of 2023 entered high school in fall 2019 and in March 2020 had to quickly pivot to online learning without having fully adjusted to being in a new school.

Many of the night’s speakers referenced those trying times and how each member of the class rose to meet those challenges. They encountered obstacles “no one has ever had to face,” Class President Carl Barton said during his welcoming remarks. 

“I congratulate each and every one of you for your perseverance,” Co-Salutatorian Ryan Kochiss said. 

They had support from their teachers, family and friends who were all adapting alongside of them. One of those teachers was Kelsey Winkeler, a former science teacher at the high school who traveled from Virginia where she is now a graduate student after members of the Class of 2023 asked her to be their keynote speaker.  

In her speech Winkeler lauded the class’ accomplishments including performances, sports championships and the 112 college credits they earned in their senior year.

“I also heard some of you set up a petting zoo at school?” she said, referencing the class’ senior prank earlier in the week. The class — sitting on chairs on four rows of risers dressed in purple and white robes — chuckled along with the crowd. Due to rain, the ceremony took place in the high school’s auditorium instead of on the football field as originally planned.

“Class of 2023, you have accomplished so many incredible things already despite such immense challenges,” Winkeler said. “Just by being yourselves, you challenged me to be a better teacher.”

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Kenyon: As Claremont woman stepped up for nieces, NH quickly stepped away
New Hampshire's population is increasing, especially in rural areas
Upper Valley has its share of day-drinking destinations
More than 4 million skiers braved Vermont’s weird, wet winter
Lightning strike damages buildings in Canaan
Upper Valley Independence Day celebrations

She told them there would be challenges ahead, but that they should never give up and that the important thing is they continue to try.

“Don’t let the fear of making the wrong step stop you from making any step at all,” Winkeler advised. 

Principal Tina Fleming complimented the class for the “extraordinary resilience you have demonstrated throughout your academic journey.” 

Fleming too touched upon the challenges of the pandemic, masks, block scheduling and even changes in school leadership.

“You have remained steadfast,” she said. “You have shown an unwavering determination to succeed.” 

Students spoke about the friends they’ve made and the way they’ve all grown up together, which they’ll never forget.

Valedictorian Emma Bill referenced all the memories they’ve shared including “the times we made friends we didn’t expect to.”

While she praised her classmates who had identified their passions and goals and were ready to pursue them, she also recognized those who don’t have it figured out quite yet.

“All we might want is to be found,” Bill said. “So let’s go find ourselves.”

After Class President Barton, Principal Fleming and Associate Principal Richard Simula gave the diplomas to the students, Superintendent Amanda Isabelle certified that they had met all the requirements to be high school graduates in the State of New Hampshire.

The new graduates tossed their caps into the air. A lone hat got stuck on an overhead stage light and laughter filled the auditorium.

Members of the Class of 2023 left the stage to greet their families and friends as Kansas’ “Carry on My Wayward Son” — their class song — played through the speakers. 

Mascoma Valley Regional High School Class of 2023

Michael Gabriel Barnes, University of New Hampshire; Ethan Daniel Barney, Worcrester Polytechnic Institute; Zoe Meredith Barrett, River Valley Community College; Carl Joseph Barton, Saint Michael’s College; Aiden Charles Bassett, Endicott College; Emilie Elisabeth Belisle, Keene State College; Shay Ann Belisle, University of New Hampshire; Lillian Mae Bender, River Valley Community College; Rosina Maxine L. Bennett, DHWRI Pharmacy Apprenticeship Program; Emma Mae Bill; Annika Grace Bishop, workforce; Connor Rene Cantlin, University of New Hampshire; Joseph Paul Christian, Clarkson University; Alanna Meyers Cilbrith; Sara Rose, Conkey Keene State College; Lindsey Shea Cook, AVEDA Institute; Ceeanna Marie Crandall; Dylan Scott Dionne; Megan Ann Dow, University of Maine Orono; Isaiah Parker Drexler, workforce; Logan Patrick Escano-Smith, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Kaylee Clanel Felix, River Valley Community College; William Kenneth Finger, University of Rhode Island; Lillian Rose Fraser-Gray, workforce; Connor Robert French, workforce; Lauren Elise Gilliland, Southern New Hampshire University; Ryan Laird Gilliland, workforce; Logan James Gilmore, workforce; Garrett James Giovagnoli, Franklin Pierce University; Paige Anne Hill, Saint Michael’s College; Amber Elizabeth Houston, workforce; Josie Lindsay Jeror, Dartmouth Workforce Readiness Institute; Ryan David Kochiss, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Justin Emery LaBelle, Lakes Region Community College; Gage Parker Lambert, New Hampshire Technological Institute; Alan Michael Laquerre, United States Marine Corps; Nathin Wyett Larocque, workforce; Ariana Lee Lecuyer, workforce; Hunter Everett Lemay, workforce; Vivianne Elizabeth Mallett, University of Maine at Presque Isle; Kiyle Richard Mardin, workforce; Cadance Maye Martin, workforce; Kyra Ann Martin, workforce; Rebecca Jane Marx, Plymouth State University; Jade Elizabeth Maxwell; Amina Mary Lois Mazur; Liadan Jane McDermott, New Hampshire Technological Institute; Asa Robert Michetti, Maine Maritime Academy; Piper Ann Morgan, Keene State College; Emma Nicole Mullaly The State University of New York: Potsdam; Zoe Mya; Declan Garaidh Nerney, United States Army; Josie Marie Nestle; Rhys Mark Joseph Roberts, University of Florida; Nolan Russel Rombow, Plymouth State University; Isaiah Taylor Roussel, Job Corps; Damien Michael Ryan; Jacob Liam Sawyer, workforce; Jasmine Lynn Shampney, workforce; Kayli Ann Stapelfeld, Northern Vermont University; Griffin Hathorn Stebbins; Samuel Cuilli Steinberg, University of Maine; Rhiannon Marie Stone, University of New Hampshire; Aiden Richard Streeter, workforce; Grant David Suttie, Keene State College; Leighum James Tetreault, workforce; Zachary Laurence Thompson, Vermont State University at Castleton; James Asher Thoresen, workforce; Kaitlyn Elizabeth Toth, Empire Beauty School; Elena Azizy Trempe, St. Lawrence University; Gabrielle Claire Wetherbee, Franklin Pierce University; Cameron Joseph White, Vermont State University at Castleton; and Carmen Elizabeth Zani, University of Maine at Orono.