Chester News

Chester Academy Class of 2020 Graduation
By Penny Williams 6-9-2020

The Chester Academy class of 2020 graduated in the morning of  June 4,  in a different but memorable fashion.

According to Principal Karen Lacroix, some parents in the community have worked with the town to have a car processional which will leave Busche Academy and slowly go down Route 121, turn left onto Route 102 and then onto Murphy Drive. This is not a school sponsored event but the families wanted to do this for the students. It will start at 7:30 a.m. After the car procession, we will park the cars in the Chester Academy Parking lot leaving a space between each car. We have hired the company FunFlicks. They will have a 32 foot inflatable movie screen which will be set up by the basketball court. Essentially the actual Eighth Grade Promotion will be done drive-in movie style with sound coming out of their car radios and the video projected onto the screen. At 8:30 the event will start and I will greet families live on a microphone. Mrs. Josee Archer, a grade 8 parent, created a promotion video that will play after the Principal's greeting. The video will consist of an introduction to Royal Richardson, School Board Chair's speech, an introduction to Peter Morgan, the guest speaker, an introduction to each of the grade advisors, Riana Cleveland, Bea Donohue, Ron Lubatti, and Deb Wamsley, who speak about each one of their advisory members including any awards or recognitions they received. The grade 8 slide show is next which was put together by Tracey Farrenkopf with help from Beth Howard followed by closing live comments by me.

Richardson spoke to the class saying, "Over the years that I have been on the Board, I have attended and participated in many of these ceremonies, including the years when my daughter and son were promoted to attend Pinkerton Academy the following year.  Each year, we have all crowded together under the big yellow-and-white tent with photographers and reporters from the local newspaper wandering around and asking questions. The local cable TV crew would be there, filming the event. And the Principal and her team would be scurrying around making sure that everything was “just-so” before the students arrived.
But that isn’t the case this year. This year will clearly be the most memorable promotion ceremony that Chester Academy has ever presented. And I should take a moment here to recognize the efforts of Principal Lacroix, her team and the support of Mrs. Archer who helped pull this all together.

"This year’s ceremony will be memorable for a couple of reasons. First, it is 2020 and that is one of those “decade boundary” years so it will be easy to remember. You may not appreciate it at this time but it will also be remembered as the year of the pandemic, a year when everything changed.

"For many of you, this is your eighth or ninth year at Chester Academy and it is the only school that you have ever known. Your classmates have also been your friends since you first started here: you guys have clearly spent a lot of time together. And all of that very abruptly, and without any advance notice, stopped on March 15th, 2020.   We know that we asked you to give up a lot of very important things. There would be no dances. There would be no sports or sporting events to go to with your friends. No interaction with your friends between classes or at lunch or even just hanging out together. While the adults figured out what to do we also asked you to take on a very significant, new responsibility. We also asked you to continue your studies and to continue learning without coming back to Chester Academy.

"I want to share with you that the Chester School Board is very proud of the staff at Chester Academy for making the transition to this new Remote Learning environment, with a foundation of Remote Instruction and Remote Support of our students. I also want to share with you that each of you should be very proud of what you have accomplished over the last three months as you completed your studies at Chester Academy. It is remarkable that the school year continued; that instruction by your teachers continued; and it is remarkable that your studies and learning also continued. You can all proudly look back on this year and say “Hey, we’re the first ones that did that!”

   "Every year this ceremony marks a milestone, a touch point that we all can look back to. And it marks the point where, four years from now there will be another milestone date for you and your family when you graduate from Pinkerton Academy.

At that point, you will embark on the next step in your life after High School is completed: some of you will take on your first job; some of you will enlist in military service; and others will enter college where another milestone graduation will take place in two or four years.

 "So, today is a special day in your life. It is marking a milestone date in your education. And it is marking a special day in a very unique year for all of us."

Peter Morgan has been a Paraeducator at Chester Academy for six years. He currently brings over seven decades of life experience to his position, including 
31 years with Bell Telephone Laboratories, and its subsequent corporate re-incarnations, as a Member of the Technical Staff serving as a Product Development Engineer. He holds Associate, Bachelor, and Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering. He served  four years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He has
been involved in education for over 20 years as a Paraeducator; as a school board member in Salem, New Hampshire; and as a volunteer in a Lawrence MA middle school.

Morgan spoke to the students from his heart saying, "So … Here we are … not a typical 8th Grade completion celebration, but still a celebration that marks the ending of this class’s education at Chester Academy. Most of us have worked together for two years, so we’ve known each other a while and I’ve enjoyed our time together. It’s always interesting to watch students develop from older children to young adults. The journey isn’t over. There’s a song from the late 70’s titled “The Logical Song”. It was written and performed by the English rock group Supertramp.
While the lyrics contain many of the literary devices we’ve learned in LA, we’ll skip the traditional literary analysis at this time and get to the point. Today is the day that we are sending you away to a new beginning. Like all the classes before you, you’ll learn how to be more sensible, responsible, practical, dependable, clinical, and intellectual. It’s part of maturing. The future will bring new freedoms, challenges and opportunities to all of you. Some of you will handle them easily and some of you will need to work hard, but I’m confident you will succeed.

"There will be times that you wonder who you are and what your future will hold. Everyone asks these questions. Here’s some advice for those times when all the world’s asleep and the questions are running deep.  Leaving Chester Academy is only one of many endings. Use it to reflect on how things went for you and whether or not you’d change anything with your new beginning. There’s a saying by an unknown author that goes like this: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got …” In other words, if you want things to change, do something different or nothing will change.  If you always take the same path, you’ll always reach the same destination.

"This event also marks the beginning of high school education for the rising Freshmen of the Class of 2024. There’s no shortage of new resources, new courses, and new extracurricular activities in high school that can broaden your perspective and give you an opportunity to do something new and take a different path. Here’s a definition of education attributed to Albert Einstein:“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Core classes will help develop your academic skills. Extracurricular activities, where you work with other people, will help develop your social skills. Take advantage of both opportunities. 

"Think carefully about what you want to do, don’t make choices that eliminate future options. Get advice from trusted advisors. Remember that the part of the human brain that provides good judgment and critical thinking isn’t fully developed until you’re about 26 years old. So ask people who are older than 26 for advice.

"Finally, use this as a chance to continue to educate yourself and grow. It’s not too late to start now. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says: If you want shade, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time to plant the tree is now. Don’t be afraid to plant your tree or walk a new path now." 


Awards for Chester Academy graduates:

Community Alliance for Teen Safety            Jolynne Ungaro
Gary Aramini Service Award                      Jenny Hiscox
Angelo Lagana Award                              Nora Scott
Scholastic Achievement Awards                Keith Holske & Laura Hammond
Effort Award                                          Cyle Archer & Isabelle Groulx
Athletic Awards                                     Christopher Hosey & Isabelle Groulx
Chester Lions Club                                 Christopher Hosey & Madison Simoneau
Clara Dolloff Service Award                      Kate Smetzler
Chester C.A.R.E.S. Award                       Ryan Lewandowski & Jessica Piper
Most Volunteer Hours                             Calvin Plante
Walt St. Clair Award                               Kaiden Audy
Art Awards                                            Keith Holske & Jenny Hiscox
Music Award                                         Laurabeth Bestwick
Math Counts Award                                Keith Holske
School Spirit Award                                Noah Jones & Madalyn Moore
Presidential Gold Award                          John Hobden & Keith Holske
Top 5 Students  Laura Hammond, Jenny Hiscox, John Hobden, Keith Holske, Ryan Lewandowski











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