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Fort Plain grads told: Learn from mistakes

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 - Updated: 10:04 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- The 50-member class of 2014 graduated from Fort Plain Jr./Sr. High School during the district's One Hundred Nineteenth Commencement, held Saturday morning in the Harry Hoag Elementary School gymnasium.

Along with speeches from Valedictorian Christian Arndt, Salutatorian Kasey Mang, Superintendent of Schools Douglas Burton and Jr./Sr. High School Principal Deborah Larrabee, the commencement featured a a section wherein students received scholarships. The students also honored influential teachers and staff members, presenting them with kind words, gifts and hugs.

Speaking first was Superintendent Douglas Burton, imploring students to "Never stop trying. Try your hardest for those goals you hold dear."

Providing facts about the rapidly evolving job market, Burton added, "we're attempting to prepare these students for jobs that don't exist yet using technologies that haven't even been invented yet."

Salutatorian Kasey Mang delivered a Salutatory Address early in the ceremony. Mang, after thanking "friends, family, teachers and administrators" for their contributions to her life and growth, spoke about the responsibility that comes with adult life.

Mang stated, "Mistakes are a part of life and we are almost guaranteed to make a few big ones growing up. In the past, our parents and close friends have been there to help us weather these mistakes. I'm not saying they won't be there for us in the future, but they aren't going to be there for us every step of the way."

She explained, "The time has come for us to make the first step into our futures. Now that we are graduating, we have to learn to juggle all the responsibility of our own mistakes and learn from them."

She asked fellow seniors to learn from their errors, realizing that not only are they inevitable, but also beneficial. She said, "My point is this; not all mistakes are bad. They may seem awful at the time, but if you learn from them, and don't make the same mistake twice, they aren't so bad."

Early in his speech, Valedictorian Christian Arndt informed the crowd that he, dealing with a case of writer's block, found inspiration in the film "Ferris Beuller's Day Off," which Larrabee later pointed out was released 28 years ago.

Working from inspiration offered by a quote in the film that stated, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it," Arndt conjured up a memory from each grade.

Of kindergarten, he joked, "I don't recall too well, but I miss nap-time a lot."

Of fifth grade, he remembered, "Mr. Kahn left lifelong impressions on all of us, from earthquake drills to JFK's grassy knoll to Friday doughnuts and cider to watching Frontier House — he inspired us all to live like we were in the 1850's."

Arndt recalled Jersey Shore, "swag" and YOLO, before noting that these memories, including senior year trips and bowling and "the glory of being the oldest students in the school", brought him to Saturday's graduation, which, he said, "officially closes the first chapter of our life."

"I know everyone always says not to forget your past at ceremonies like this, but seriously -- don't. Those memories, which I thought were just nostalgic fluff while writing them down, are what make us who we are," said Arndt.

"They set us apart from every other graduating class out there today."

Following the commencement's recognition of honor graduates and awarding of diplomas, along with a sincere speech by Larrabee congratulating the seniors on their accomplishment, the students, covered in a celebratory layer of silly string dispensed wildly after they flipped their tassels, filed out of the  gymnasium towards uncertain futures, all to the tune of Recessional — "Ode to Joy".

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