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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Campbell High graduates get happy, poignant send-off

LITCHFIELD – Graduation is almost always a happy time, and Matt Woods, president of the Campbell High School Class of 2014, ran with that theme Friday night.

“Don’t just plan to be happy – be happy,” Woods told his roughly 120 fellow graduates. “Tonight, I wish you all the utmost happiness. Because that’s all that matters.” ...

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LITCHFIELD – Graduation is almost always a happy time, and Matt Woods, president of the Campbell High School Class of 2014, ran with that theme Friday night.

“Don’t just plan to be happy – be happy,” Woods told his roughly 120 fellow graduates. “Tonight, I wish you all the utmost happiness. Because that’s all that matters.”

A raucous cheer signaled the graduates’ agreement with Woods’ remarks, labeled officially as a “farewell” speech that also set the stage for several minutes of celebration involving beach balls, balloons, streamers, and red and black crepe paper sent spiraling over the grads and into parts of the audience gathered inside the school gymnasium.

Although a persistent band of showers drove the young school’s graduation ceremony indoors, it failed to dampen the spirits of the young men and women as they celebrated with words, photos, hugs and family.

Valedictorian Benjamin Billings hailed the virtues of music in his address, then praised his fellow graduates.

“We’ve made our marks on the world, as corny as that sounds,” he said to a few laughs.

He urged his classmates to be true to themselves and make it a priority to serve humanity as they go through life.

Salutatorian Leah Stagnone, the Student Council historian, began by poking a little fun at former President George W. Bush.

“Here at Campbell High School, the students is learning every day,” she said, a reference to one of many fractured English phrases for which Bush is known.

“I’m confident that … the Class of 2014 is one of great potential and passion, and (has) a better understanding of singular and plural cases than that of dear President Bush.”

Stagnone also drew laughs by suggesting her peers take advantage of the moment: “Your parents are probably feeling the proudest they ever have right now, so if you need to ask them for money or apologize for something, you should probably do that right after the ceremony.”

She also reminded the class that Friday night was a beginning rather than an ending.

While the graduates are “closing one chapter,” they’re also “beginning a new one,” she said.

What Stagnone called “one more piece of advice for you” was a heartfelt message to not “live your life off of standards of success set by others.”

“Do things because they make you feel good, because you gain fulfillment from them and because you are passionate,” she said.

Senior class adviser Michael Boutselis was the guest speaker, and as such began by telling the grads “how incredibly proud I am of you.”

He also thanked the class for choosing him to speak, saying he was humbled “by the faith you have bestowed in me both as your teacher and as your class adviser.”

Boutselis also took a minute to praise “my fearless co-adviser, Erin Brown, without whom I would not be standing here today.”

He used the words “determined,” “passionate” and “diverse” in defining the class, which he said is impossible to sum up in just one word “no matter how hard we tried.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).