Woodstock Class of ’24 ready to explore the wider world

Members of the Class of 2024 peek at their friends and family through the hockey rink glass before their procession at Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Members of the Class of 2024 peek at their friends and family through the hockey rink glass before their procession at Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Jen Davila, of Sharon, Vt., waves photos of her daughter, Lila Beckwith, during the senior processional at Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. Beckwith will be attending George Washington University for business and Environmental Studies. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Jen Davila, of Sharon, Vt., waves photos of her daughter, Lila Beckwith, during the senior processional at Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. Beckwith will be attending George Washington University for business and Environmental Studies. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Class of 2024 valedictorian Leah Kuhnert smiles as she leaves the podium after giving her valedictory address during Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Class of 2024 valedictorian Leah Kuhnert smiles as she leaves the podium after giving her valedictory address during Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Students in the Class of 2024 march through a smiling crowd of friends and family members at the beginning of Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Students in the Class of 2024 march through a smiling crowd of friends and family members at the beginning of Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Quinn Stickney listens to the graduation proceedings while wearing a customized mortarboard emblazoned with Jacksonville University's mascot at Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. Stickney will be studying psychology at the Florida college. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Quinn Stickney listens to the graduation proceedings while wearing a customized mortarboard emblazoned with Jacksonville University's mascot at Woodstock Union High School's graduation ceremony at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on June 14, 2024. Stickney will be studying psychology at the Florida college. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

By CHRISTINA DOLAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-15-2024 9:46 AM

WOODSTOCK — With an eruption of bright green mortarboards, the class of 2024 celebrated its graduation inside Union Arena Friday evening.

“Your world is as big as you make it,” Principal Gavin Small told the graduates.

Woodstock may be a small-town school, but each speaker tapped into the remarkable array of backgrounds, passions and talents in the student body. Together, they painted a picture of a kind of rural cosmopolitanism that prepares students to thrive wherever their future takes them.

“As I prepare to move on to the classic big American college experience, I have realized that there is nothing small about the sort of community that we have in this place,” Valedictorian Leah Kuhnert said to the crowd of about 400 people gathered for the commencement ceremony. She will attend Cornell University in the fall.

Though Kuhnert joked about social outings to the gas station and driving to Target, referencing Noah Kahan lyrics about the paucity of opportunity in small towns, she reminded her classmates that one of the values of growing up in a close-knit community is the support they will take with them wherever they go.

“Remember to lead with a desire to understand rather than to judge. Remember to never stop believing in good and never stop believing in people,” she said.

Seniors Clara Shortle, William Obbard, and Kamron Yuengling performed a “speakchorus” for their classmates, a longstanding Woodstock tradition begun by former theater teacher Harriet Worrell. The performance, called “Directive,” celebrated each member of the senior class with a mix of poetry, song, and exhortation.

“Become lost. Take a deep breath, you will not always be lost. You are right here, in your time and in your place,” the three graduates sang-spoke.

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The speakchorus honored each member of the class of 2024 by acknowledging the traits — love of the outdoors, athletic prowess, kindness, humor, the ability to fix a mountain bike — that made them unique members of the community.

Shortle, Obbard and Yuengling created a sound-picture of a class of disparate personalities, interests, and strengths that had come together over the past four years to create a unique and special community.

Senior class president Maggie Mello urged her classmates to choose happiness as they move through life.

“Happiness is not something that some people can have and other people can’t. It builds through a series of decisions we make every day,” she said.

In their relationships, passions, and the environments they choose to spend time, Mello, who will attend Providence College in the fall, cautioned the graduates not to shy away from their happiness.

“Follow your passion, find your people, and visit your happy places,” she said.

Class of 2024

Maxwell Eric Abrams, University of Vermont, computer science; Phoebe Marley Anderson, Hobart and William Smith; Catherine D. Austin, Clarkson University, mechanical engineering; Lindsey Elizabeth; Brendan R. Barbour, sales/entrepreneur; Douglas Bard, work/armed forces; Jaedon Ridere Skye Beardsley, defer from St. Lawrence University, post-graduate year at Killington Mountain School, business; Mary Lila Beckwith, George Washington University, business and environmental studies; Celeste Royce Lily Belisle, Tulane University, communications; Ilya D. Bochkov; Meridian Eve Bremel, Alfred University, equine business management; Anna Magdalena Brown; Sage Marie Campisi, Vermont State University in Randolph, veterinary technician; Charley Mae Crowley, hair stylist, First Impressions Salon & Spa; Skye Emma Cully, University of Vermont, environmental engineering; Harper Gabriel Davidson; Brexton Riley Eckler; Amelie May Mair Fabre, University of Vermont, global studies and international studies; Django Treash Farinas; Cormac Clinton Farrell; Eli Fielder, work and school; Giuseppe Vincent Franza; Genevieve Anna Gnodde, attending college in the Netherlands, biology/English; Joseph Goes; Phoebe Grace Goldberg, University of California San Diego, biomedical science; Kiera Jayden Grillo-Chope, Community College of Vermont, career exploration; Hannah Elizabeth Gubbins, St. Lawrence University, psychology; Sam G. Hambsch; Kianny Fernanda Harrington, travel and gap year; Ethan Paul Havill, Southeast Lineman Training Center; Brooke Ryan Hecker, Providence College, elementary and special education; Laura Analeis Hendee, University of Vermont, psychology; Joshua M. Hough, workforce; Benjamin Roy Johnsen; Andrea Stalla Gracinda Journet, Catholic University of Lyon, France; Logan Maurine Knox; Owen Jeffrey Kross; Leah Mae Kuhnert, Cornell University, Earth and atmosphere sciences; Jazmine Elizabeth Lantz, Marine Corps.; Gracelyn Mary Laperle, Suffolk University, biology; Ezra William Lockhart, Gordon College; Brooke Nikole Longley; Remy Ruth Malik, Brown University, classics; Zach Tsien Li Martsolf-Tan, San Diego State University; Kuba Marzec, Bard College, photography; Chloe Beach Masillo, Northeastern University, biology; Tori Leah McNamara, United States Air Force Academy, geospatial science; Margaret Ella Mello, Providence College, business management; Grace H. Modarai, Franklin and Marshall College, biology; Delia Jean Morgan, University of Vermont, studio art; Lucas Morgan; Mikayla Ann Myers, Providence College, nursing; Cassandra Marilyn Edgar Naife; Sophia Doris Nisimblat, Boston College, marketing and/or management; Charlotte Elizabeth Nunan, University of Vermont, art education; William George Obbard, Aberystwyth University, Wales, computer science; Jordan William O’Neal, Johnson and Wales University, culinary arts; Keller Pauly, Keene State University; Griffin Nichols Piconi, Ohio University, engineering; Seamus M. Powers, Saint Joseph’s University, neuroscience and philosophy; Charles S. Rice, trade school in Halifax, welding; Jacob Sidney Roth, University of Utah, mechanical engineering; Gavyn Hugh Sammel, Bridgewater State or University of Southern Maine, anthropology; Ryan Seiple; Claudia Louise Shoemaker, Wheaton College, marketing; Clara Joan Shortle, Anglo-American University, Prague, journalism and media studies; Richard Edward Siems, employment at T & R’s Junk Removal; Ella Robin Stainton, University of Richmond, biology and business; Farren Elsbeth Stainton, Middlebury College, neuroscience and biology; Quinn Lavin Stickney, Jacksonville University, psychology; Jacob Keith Stone; Heikke-Maverick Pomeroy Tans, University of Massachusetts Amherst, architecture; Allie Ray Tarleton; Georgia Reid Tarleton; Tanner James Tarleton; Iosif Alexander Tsouknakis; Cole Kathleen Waters; Hannah Mae Watson, American International College; Vera Marae Windish, Johnson and Wales University, baking and pastry art; Bode Webbster Wood, Providence College, health science; Jonas T. Wysocki; Zev A. Wysocki; and Kamron Kristina Yuengling, Montclair State University, film and media production.

Christina Dolan can be reached at cdolan@vnews.com or (603) 727-3208