North Warren Seniors (left to right): Kiera Warner, Amanda Millington and Ashlee Maresca share a joke as they line up prior to graduation ceremonies Saturday June 23.
North Warren Central teacher and coach Poul Carstensen, guest speaker at the school’s graduation ceremonies, stepped to the lectern and looked at the graduates-to-be.
“I am the only thing that now stands between you and your diplomas — I haven’t felt this much power since keeping you in for recess,” he joked.
North Warren’s ceremonies Saturday June 23 featured quips and quirks that showcased the innovation, humor and spontaneity of the Class of 2012.
On the last class period of the final day of the school year, the Class of 2012 strolled through the school’s hallways and serenaded teachers and undergrads with a song.
At their commencement celebration, there were more surprises in store.
Class Valedictorian Jennifer Paris and Salutatorian Caitlyn Kenney gave a joint graduation speech rather than separate ones as is traditional.
In a back-and-forth dialogue delving in and out of comedy, Paris and Kenney described the attributes, foibles and adventures of the Class of 2012 through the years.
Paris said the class was academically inclined, noting that half of its members were on the school’s Honor Roll.
“My classmates have not only aimed high, but they’ve also achieved their goals,” she said. “They’re not afraid to work hard.”
Complimenting Kenney’s notebook doodling that resembled floating jellyfish, Paris said that her classmates’ achievements extended beyond academics into the artistic and musical realms.
“The flow of creativity never seems to stop,” she said.
School employees, parents and community members all offered vital support and guidance through the years, Paris added.
“Thanks to everyone who’s influenced our lives,” Paris said.
The duo recalled various highlights in the experiences of the Class of 2012, talking of nazi zombies, fractured fairy tales and school pranks.
For the traditional senior prank, their class had spelled out 2012 on the school’s glass entranceway with hundreds of Post-It notes, they observed.
“As we continue to march toward adulthood, I want all of you to remember that we need to be a kid once in a while,” Kenney said.
Referring to the class prank, North Warren Principal Theresa Andrew remarked that life’s events proceed one after another, like single sheets yanked from the tablets.
“As you pull off your Post-It notes, remember to be honest, work hard, treat people as you want to be treated and remember your roots,” she said. “Have a great life journey.”
Carstensen also reflected on the progression of life, noting that the Class of 2012 was his first group of students to teach — as fifth graders in 2005 — at North Warren. He noted their academic, athletic, musical and dramatic accomplishments.
“The talents within you are amazing,” he said. “You all have much for which to be proud,” he said.
Quoting from Ralph Waldo Emerson, he offered an observation on character.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us,” he said.
NWCS grads have that inner character required to tackle future challenges, whether it’s in college, the military or the workforce, Carstensen added.
“Within you is the confidence to make the right choices and the knowledge to execute your plan,” he said. “Success, great success, lies within each one of you. Your drive and determination helped you get to this point, and your passion and resolve will assist you on the rest of your way.”
Class advisors Melissa Myers and Eric Bott presented flowers and gifts to the graduates, one by one.
Assisted by Superintendent of Schools Joe Murphy, Principal Theresa Andrew presented the graduation awards. Diplomas were granted by school board president Marion Eagan.
The ceremony concluded with the students tossing their mortarboard hats into the air with abandon, then proceeding out of the school auditorium to the strains of “Send Me On My Way,” a song by the band Rusted Root.