Baccalaureate Tradition Continues with Bicentennial Class Reflections

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Baccalaureate is one of New Hampton School’s annual traditions designed to honor the graduating class and allowing them to come together in an intimate setting to share stories, memories, and insights from their years together. Our Bicentennial class has experienced two unique years in particular, and their spirit of resilience and gratitude continued through to their final days on campus. To be inclusive of their remote classmates, our community hosted this event as a hybrid event—both in person and virtually. The students reflected on experiences of their time here at New Hampton School and listened closely to their elected faculty speaker to close the evening.

Darren Lombardozzi ’21; Finding Your Place and Your People

“I somehow fell into the job position as a hockey manager where I met amazing people like Taze Thompson and Elsa Cassidy who were some of my closest friends. Junior year came and I realized I found my place. I realized that year, that you learn so much more from your teachers than you realize and that what you learn isn’t just math problems and vocabulary. You build relationships and memories with these people. People like Mr. Gale.

I remember Mr. Gale teaching me math freshman and sophomore years then having him as a dorm parent junior and senior year. During my junior year as a proctor, I remember all the times Mr. Gale and I would be in the common room until midnight talking about what was going on in each other lives. That’s when I realized you don’t just have teachers at New Hampton School, but great friends and role models. Now we’re here with only a night until graduation and I’m at a spot that my 14-year-old self couldn’t imagine.”

Lilli McAdams ’21; Embracing Leadership and Opportunities

“When I first got on campus my sophomore year, I was dialed in as a basketball player, and I was a bit of a try-hard—I remember waking up at 5:45 sharp every day, trying so hard to impress Benzio (which for those who knew her, she was a tough one to impress) and chase the dream of playing at the college level. With my hard work and effort, I worked through mentality issues and a series of unfortunate injuries. Yet, looking back, even though I saw myself one-dimensionally as a basketball player, I ended up trying my hand at new things and taking advantage of the opportunities New Hampton School had to offer.

One of the biggest changes I’ve implemented in my life was taking on leadership roles. For instance, when Ms. Farr-Williams accepted my application for being International Ambassador, it came as a bit of a shock to me because I wasn’t an international student. In fact, I live about an hour and 15 from school, and my parents–bless their souls—took the liberty to visit me any chance they got. It was almost as if I never left home. Nevertheless, the opportunity of this role really acted as a way for me to connect with new students, especially the international ones, and facilitate their integration to Husky Nation— or simply make new friends as my parents really wanted me to do for some reason. But if it weren’t for the support from my close friends, trusted adults, and even my kind peers, I definitely would not be the same person standing here before you all today.”

Ellie Beaudet ’21; Friendships and Resilience

“My first time on campus as an enrolled student I was giving a tour, before my first official day of classes as a student at New Hampton School, I was giving a tour… Since that day I’ve been making incredible memories with amazing people. The first time Lindsey and I met she came up to me after a practice during preseason, and our first words to each other were “Are you Ellie Beaudet?” and “Are you Lindsey Duggan?” Then followed by us making jokes about how our brothers wanted us to be friends. The day Emma and I decided to go hiking, swimming in the lake, and jumping off a bridge all in one day because we couldn’t decide what we wanted to do that day.

The movie and muffin dates Sera and I had. Making runs to the gas station with Brinly to get red bulls before a late practice. The car rides I had with Nora where we sang our hearts out. The time in civics class our freshmen year where we “guessed” the code to the airplay and got the day off. Church, I hope you keep the promise you made because my calendar has been marked for four years now.

This year looked a lot different. We found ourselves dealing with the pandemic, and because of this, we were unable to have a traditional senior year, we didn’t have many of the group activities that have brought the school together in the past, but instead, this year showed the strength and resilience of our class. Despite not being able to go off campus, enjoy hanging out in large groups, or getting the chance to experience most senior events throughout the year we have still managed to keep that sense of community I’ve always loved. […] Between senior games, art showcases, and even our senior events leading up to graduation we have shown up and supported one another. This year made me realize that the people I have met here over the past four years are not just teammates, classmates, teachers, or friends–these people and this community are family, and I could not be prouder to be a part of it.”

Evan Britton ’21; Taking Chances

“During the winter of sophomore year, I remembered a mantra of a man that I have a lot of respect for. That mantra was to “try something new”… The best parts of my sophomore year came down to that thinking. Making impulsive decisions to go somewhere or do something… That is how I got into theater, that and the persuasiveness of Mr. Sampson. “Lovesick”, which was the name of the show, was my first experience with acting and I had lots of fun embarrassing myself with the roles I had been given. Springtime rolled around and so did the musical. The Drowsy Chaperone, easily the most fun, inspiring, and taxing experience of any other show I’ve done, also the most infamous. In that show I learned how to roller skate pretty well, because I had to do it blindfolded and sing and dance… and at one point I had to pick up Juliette Pegula and make it look effortless… That show was also the largest one I’ve done… there were so many different personalities… the oddest of which consisted of Johnny Beaudet and Max Taylor… I mean odd as in they were new to theater. A special moment I hope I never forget was a moment I shared backstage with Sam Davis and Ellie Beaudet. I don’t remember why we did this but before I went on stage to embarrass myself on skates, the three of us shared one of the best hugs I had had in a while. It took away my nerves that night and it helped me get into character.

We did this again on the second night and again I got into character so well that it felt like I had been whitewashed a bit. I didn’t know it at the time but in hindsight, that was the most traumatic experience of that whole ordeal. I don’t mean the hugging part… I mean the whitewashing of being so in character because it led me to question my blackness, which is ironic given the overwhelming demographic I was and am surrounded. Nevertheless, I got through that chapter in my life with only a few tears shed I would also come to realize that I had a new mentor in my life Mrs. Brown whom I am happy to say I have gotten a lot closer to this year, and I have nothing but love and respect for her as both a history teacher and director.”

Faculty Speaker: Keon Burns

Each year, the graduating class selects a faculty member to speak at the Baccalaureate ceremony. Because of his connection to our class, the consistent presence, dedication, and enthusiasm he shared among the class of 2021, Mr. Keon Burns was selected as the faculty Baccalaureate speaker. Mr. Burns remarked on the journeys of the students, acknowledging their years and distance traveling to the school, before sharing his own story of how he came to be at New Hampton School. From an unfortunate case of appendicitis as a freshman in college to a chance meeting with Nick Whitemore, followed by a fresh start at the University of New Hampshire, and a fateful call from Nick. “During the worst chapter of my life, I made a connection with Nick. He called me one day when I graduated. He said New Hampton School has a position as a basketball coach and a math teacher. He asked me if I could teach math, I said I can try. From failure came an opportunity. And that is how I got here.”

Connecting his class teachings and mindfulness practices over the years, Mr. Burns went on to offer key advice from his experiences. This is to arrive at each step in your path with creativity, positivity, and energy. Creative solutions like Jason Feinstein starting the utensil wrapping program this year; Janice Liu creating websites in Financial Modeling; the founding members of the E-Sports Team starting a competitive team and finding the support for it. Positivity and perseverance in all things to ‘achieve something great.’ And energy he marked as the most important thing because ‘it takes energy to do anything.’

Mr. Burns cites the founding of the Husky Howlers, the catalyst of all three keys of creativity, positivity, and energy. In sharing the story of their founding, he shares “My second year at New Hampton, 4 students, including 2021 graduate Cam Devlin, created the Husky Howlers. The howlers are THE fan section at New Hampton sporting events. If you are a member of the New Hampton community and have ever been to a sporting event then you are a husky howler.” Summoning their energy and the need to feel that connectivity like the community has built in the upper gymnasium, Mr. Burns invited the audience to join him in a howler cheer to mark the end of their time together in New Hampton. Thank you to Mr. Burns, our student speakers, the Class of 2021, and all our guests for celebrating Baccalaureate with us in an extraordinary year.

To watch a full recording of the Baccalaureate Ceremony, visit here.

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