With cheers, a phone call from Florida and cannon fire, John Stark celebrates his graduates

John Stark manager Gary Dempsey began his opening speech with a simple thank you.

“What a year it’s been,” Dempsey remarked. “I’m not going to go through it all or we would be here all day. But I wanted to say thank you to the 2021 class.

And then his phone started ringing. All three FaceTime chimes rang, as Dempsey assured guests that it was part of his plan.

“Jake, can you hear me? ” He asked.

On the other end of the phone was Jake Garside, a graduate of John Stark Regional High School. As his classmates gathered to celebrate their last four years, Garside celebrated from afar.

Hailing from Sarasota, Florida, Garside competes in the USRowing Youth National Regatta. Sunday, he competes to consolidate his place among the six best rowers in the country.

“I mainly live in paradise. All we do is eat, sleep and row, ”Garside told the crowd of 1,000 in the speaker.

With royal blue caps and dresses, scarves, accords and decorations from the National Honor Society, the graduation ceremony took place on the school’s football field on Saturday.

Spray painted white boxes, with nine chairs, one in front of two rows of four, specially arranged for graduates and their eight designated guests. While not physically present, Garside wasn’t the only senior who could share his own words with the group.

In his greeting speech, Nathan Chasse, had a final request from his classmates.

“I have a simple challenge for each of us: to go ahead and fail,” he said.

Growth follows failure, Chasse explained. It’s something every graduate knows to be true, whether it’s in the classroom, in the field, or on stage.

“Musicians, you know how many times you must have played a difficult part badly to make music,” he said.

And he reminded graduates that they are not alone in these efforts.

“By choosing the more difficult route, you will fail. But we’ll be right next to you, ”he said.

And finally, sometimes rewarding after failure takes a little patience.

“Our parents know how long you have to put down roots on a New England sports team before you can have the best in the league,” he joked.

Stephanie Rodonis reminded the class of the lessons learned and challenges encountered throughout their time at John Stark.

“We improved our parking skills, learning to fit into small spaces between trucks,” she joked. “We even survived distance learning, overcoming all the mishaps and technical difficulties along the way, which has given most of us a new appreciation for school and others.”

And to find the words for his farewell speech, Delaney Forrestall turned to his classmates. Ahead of graduation, Forrestall asked each of the 165 graduates to share a lesson learned with her.

“It showed me how a caring hometown can impact the perspectives that come with it,” she said, reflecting on reading the responses.

Don’t stop dreaming, it’s good not to be perfect, find the people who make you feel better. These are just a few of the 10 passages Forrestall shared as a take-out message.

“Remember to include your own advice as you go along, where other lessons await you,” she said.

Under some of the dresses, baseball players reminded the crowd that this was one of two school celebrations on Saturday. Later that afternoon, the generals played their first-ever Division II championship game.

As the graduates walked the stage one by one, smiling for a photo, receiving their brown diplomas, the football field erupted. From cheers and confetti to the faces of the graduates on the posters, the celebrations took place over the 100 meters.

And one final time, graduates covered their ears as Molly Stark’s cannon sounded to celebrate the class.



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