Monday, June 16, 2008


The class of 2008 chose 21-year HHS teacher Joe Bonfiglio, shown here wearing the senior T-shirt from the all-night school party, as their graduation speaker. Here are his words:

A butterfly flaps its wings. A smooth stone sails across a pond. A domino is poised to fall against rows of assembled dominoes.

We can see the immediate impact of these events, but the mark that is made on the world goes beyond the immediate. What is now is not what is necessarily to be. As Jackie Robinson wrote, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

Students, parents, community members, board members, colleagues---

We are here today to note and celebrate the positive impact that these students, the class of 2008, have had on our community and, in turn, the community's impact on them.
Today, I feel like one of the students. As many in the community know, I am retiring at the end of this school year after 33 years of teaching, 21 of them here in Hanover. But I don't feel like it's an ending. Like the students, I feel I am graduating --- moving forward to the next great experience. I began at HHS in the fall of 1987 and immediately became class advisor to my first graduating class, the Class of 1991. The members of that class and its class committee included Margie Menza, Adam Albrecht, Jen Coombs, Dan Richards, Willow Williamson, and Matt Prince. They have impacted our world through music, business, medicine, athletics, and education. It has been a thing of joy and comfort for me for the past four years as co-advisor to the class of 2008 that I have shared this responsibility with Matt Prince. In Matt, I can see the impact I had on him as a student and how HHS nurtured his abilities, but I can also benefit from his impact on my life and our school community.

As I am retiring, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I would like to state that, while many may assume they know the impact I have had, there are things that will only surface with complete openness and frankness and the witness of the future. To my fellow teachers, you may be noticing that fewer of your snacks and lunches will be missing from the staff refrigerators -- my bad, but I was really hungry. Also, you know when you went to the copier and it was jammed or out of paper --- hey, I was in a hurry and figured I'd just mess it up anyway. Speaking of paper, in the bathroom...well, enough said.

But seriously, while my own impact can not be measured in the moment, so is it true for the staff and students that sit before us today preparing to move to their next great experience. Dr. Hair has taught us lessons in honor and integrity; Ms. Caldwell and Ms. Stevenson have helped democracy flourish at HHS; Ms. Gillespie and Mr. Eberhardt have shown us poise and grace, patience and fortitude. Ms. Eakin has modeled good citizenship through community service. Mr. Lavigne has advanced Lego play for all ages. Ms. Hirai has made science accessible to all students. Mr. Bill helps us sing and juggle and graph and calculate. Mr. Murphy demonstrates optimism and perseverance in his daily life. Mr. Lloyd has shown students how to find their own paths. Ms. Murray has enough spirit for all of us! Mr. Prince has shown what it means to be a citizen of the world. Madame Vigneault is a vibrant example of how a positive attitude can thrust one towards success. Bonnie Stebbins demonstrates selflessness in her daily actions. Mr. Buck and Mr. Glenney have reminded us that the lessons of antiquity help guide our futurity. Ms. Wyatt has reminded us that well planned is half done. Mr. Eakin reminds us that true self-esteem is based on our own productivity and effort. Mr. Daley is a living example of the joy of learning. Parents, coaches, townspeople- all have impacted our students and will continue to do so.

But the students themselves have had as deep and significant an impact as the adults. I asked staff members for comments about our students, and the students they wrote about have impacted our world globally and also had a strong effect on the local community and even their own families.

Many of our students have impacted the world on the global stage.

Peter Morrow volunteered in kindergarten and special needs classrooms, and also taught soccer in the
afternoons in Guatemala. Peter commented: "I miss home..., but we're all here to try to change something, whether it's a change in yourself or for other people around you."

Hannah Levinger also volunteered as a teacher in Guatemala.

There is probably no one in the school, student or adult, who knows more about contemporary government than Dylan Mathews. Perhaps he will record all of these impacts as a historian.

Nandini Choudhury speaks out with passion and eloquence about her roots in Sri Lanka.

Helen Jack produced a play about torture with Amnesty International members from the high school and community that radically affected all who saw it.

Becky Turkington organized countless candlelight vigils on the Green for Burma and Darfur, bringing public attention to the cause of human rights.

Martha Rigby, during her junior year in Spain, volunteered at an after school program, working with children of impoverished refugees, playing soccer and making crafts. She also became a fundraiser and spokeswoman for Invisible Children, organizing an indoor soccer tournament this fall to raise money and awareness for children of war-torn countries.

Other students have had a strong impact on our local community and our school.

Natalia Fadul, rooted in two countries, two cultures, has a smile that brightens any classroom and an eager curiosity which is infectious for peers and teachers.

Dave Wilmot has been a gentleman both in and outside of class, acting as the big brother on the Close Up trip, looking out for others and their belongings. How will these nurturing leadership skills impact the future?

Stephen Maurer is one of those rare students who will bring a book to a teacher and share his love of the opaque.

Ryan Rutledge, a Mississippi transplant, brought both his grammar and his gentility with him and showed eagerness to enter into any discussion.

Cate Brown has demonstrated true leadership, always with a smile, always stepping forward or aside depending on the need.

Georgia Griffin always finishes first but always puts everyone else ahead of herself. If you've ever asked her how the race went, her response always praised the team and individual teammates with NO mention of herself! Her humility will speak volumes in the future.

Along with Cate and Georgia, Bridgette Black, Meg Donohue, and Beth Taylor played a vital role in the success of the '06 and '07 girls' cross country team. The girls won the New Englands twice and culminated their success by placing 4th in the nation at the Nike Team Nationals this past December. Where will they run in the future? And how fast will they go?

Olivia Jovine was praised for both her academic success and drive and her representation of HHS to the community as Council School Board Rep. Will she impact our future as a scientist, a decorator, a community leader?

Chris Gerling helped lead the Footlighters through three difficult transitional years. In this first year of the new auditorium, he has been key in getting things up-and-running.

Sky Schlenker took a risk on acting, dancing, and singing in his senior year and did an AMAZING job in West Side Story as Bernardo.

Mila Pinigin also was a powerful and convincing stage presence, and Dylan Mosenthal danced up a storm!

During March Intensive, Jack Yaguda came in to the "Sing Acapella" workshop to teach beat box. He was so supportive as the group produced all of these poor (and slobbery) excuses for drum sounds. Then Jonah Kasper came in to "duet," and it was heartwarming to see two seniors doing what they love, showing such confidence, and behaving in such a mature fashion (while making spit and heavy breathing noises!)

Ethan Mann would come to his short story class with "Arena Rock" CDs that he made, so that when the students walked in they could rock out before class. Additionally, Ethan successfully completed an EMT course. Will he impact the future through music or saving lives?

Colin Lacey has pursued his passion for writing by attending the Iowa Young Writers Institute and doing a Bridges project of creative writing. Kudos to him for pursuing his passion.

Robin Gougelet, Eliza Mackintosh, and Abbe Schickner organized the SEAD reunion and interned with SEAD during the summer.

Cory Pyke, Audrey Johnston, Sienna Chu and others have shared their music. Perhaps we will all hear that impact in the future on our Ipods!

David Ainley steadily and reliably did all of his Advanced Math work. David frequently made it clear that he was not there for a grade, and that, once he decided he was willing to take the class, he was going to be engaged and learn as much as he could from the time he put in. This model of true learner may be David's impact on others as he moves through life.

Peter Robb quietly, behind-the-scenes, made every Talent Show sound great-all improvisationally.

Isabella Lubin frequently brought baked delights to class for the love of cooking and her classmates.

The 10 senior boys on the golf team, led by captains Danny Cullen and Peter Williamson, volunteered eight hours each picking up after two major storms that hit the course last fall.

Sohier Perry made his Common Ground a place where everyone felt welcomed.

Brendan Bailey epitomized class spirit all during senior week.

And Niko dela Cruz hugs everyone and makes us all feel great.

Still other students make their impact very close to home.

Lucy Caldwell and many others shape the lives of their multiple younger siblings by setting standards for both achievement and fun.

And Kyle Katz takes his two-year-old brother to daycare every day.

I have mentioned about a quarter of the class members. I could probably say something about them all if time were endless.

These students --- all of them --- have had an impact on our lives and will continue to do so. It is through them that our own impact grows and flourishes. It is because of them that we continue to learn, to teach, to parent, to give to others. We may think we know the impact that they have had on Hanover and its surrounding communities, but we can not know what will be. And I for one believe we have not yet mined the depths of their impact. How will the dominoes fall?

As the Roman odist Horace wrote, "it is not right that we should know the nature and length of our futurity. ...
While we're talking, grudging time has already fled: seize the day.... The longest life is brevity."

Congratulations graduates and their families, and goodbye Hanover High.