BETHLEHEM — They were the class that no one wanted.
But they went on to shine.
Under an evening summer sky, 30 graduates from the Profile School Class of 2021 took the stage Friday at the Beech Hill Drive-In, in Bethlehem, owned by Phil Bell and Lynda Martin, who were given heaps of gratitude for providing the space.
Friday marked the second year the graduating class chose Beech Hill.
Last year, the pandemic and the need for social distancing required a venue larger than the confines of the school gymnasium.
This year, the Class of 2021 wanted to be there, outside, and they were awarded their diplomas before a picturesque backdrop of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
In her welcome address, Profile School Principal Kerry Sheehan celebrated graduates who are on their way to becoming model citizens in their communities.
“You have learned to persevere, to be resilient, and to be confident and self-directed responsible citizens,” she said. “You speak up, and are empowered to send me an email with questions and suggestions. Perhaps you have been influenced by the quote by John Lewis, on a poster in Mr. Savard’s room — ‘When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.’”
Sheehan said, “Continue to be the advocates, artists, authors, scientists, and warriors for our better future. You have become the graduates we are proud to see walk across this stage. I am so proud to know you will make certain our future is better.”
In her welcome address, Graduate Ava Garneau thanked the Profile School community and her fellow seniors.
“It hasn’t always been easy for us — we were deemed one of the most problematic Profile classes — but we overcame this,” she said. “We learned how to work together. Winning two winter carnivals proves this.”
The guest speaker, Profile Assistant Principal Kyle Jacobs, spoke of a graduating class of 30 individuals who have forever changed him.
“Four years ago, when asked if I would be interested in acting as the advisor ‘for the class that no one wanted,’ without hesitation, I accepted,” he said. “Taking a blind leap of faith, Mrs. Sweeney and I began our march with an amazing group of young people … You all have grown so much … you are the embodiment of both the journey and the destination. I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to share you experiences, struggles, and laughs, to see you through challenges and tears … to watch you grow. The class with the ‘reputation’ coalesced into a collaborative, empathetic, occasionally combative, individualistically-unified force of nature!”
The class, too, when faced with the potentially life-altering challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, took that challenge and transformed it and defined its meaning instead of being defined by it, said Jacobs.
“The ability to show resiliency, to adjust, to work for something greater than your individual desires is what has defined your class and is what will ensure your success in the future,” he said.
Salutatorian Max Ritter advised his class that as they grow into adulthood they should always keep the spark of youth.
“As we grow, we have other responsibilities to attend to, but, my fellow seniors, always make time to be 7-years-old,” he said. “Enjoy the process, and always love to learn …”
Valedictorian Elizabeth Lawton spoke of appreciation, and thanked all of the friends, families, and Profile School staff who “made a big impact on us.”
“If we don’t always say it, you have changed our lives, so truly thank you,” she said.
Lawton also spoke of a class that came out on the other side of chaos.
“Our chaos has continued for six years, but when you stop to think about this chaos it wasn’t all bad,” she said. “Because with this chaos, look at how much we have grown. Look at how far we have come. So many great memories have come from our chaos, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. No, we don’t always follow every rule to a T, but you guys are some of the most funny, caring, and resilient people I know.
“Although graduating is not a unique experience, everything we have done and accomplished together over these past 12 years definitely is,” said Lawton. “So thank you for all that. Here’s to the most chaotic, entertaining, and, in my completely unbiased opinion, the best class out there .. Congrats, guys. We made it.”
The Profile School Class of 2021:
Noah Boyer, Jesse Church, Sierra Clark-Godin, Karli Daly, Serena Devlin, Sophia Gargano, Ava Garneau, Connor Hamilton, Gabriel Jacobs, Elizabeth Lawton, Garrette Ledoux, John Ledoux, Zoe Liva, James MacIver, Kilian McKim, Laura Oliver, Quintin Paradise, Ishika Patel, Samantha Potter, Jessica Pu Calan, Max Ritter, Alexis Sellers, Natalia Soto Leslie, Aspen Stevens, Zachary Sullo, Aiden Walker, Jordan Walker, Rachel Westover, Julia Woo, Faith Wood.