Souhegan High School is ‘a magical place’

AMHERST – In some Native American tribes, when a child wandered away, everyone would help weave a blanket that was a map of the area.

Souhegan High School is like that, Paul Schlotman said in his faculty address at graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 3.

“We are a family, a tribe,” he said, “and in a tribal society everyone is valued,” giving an example of how Souhegan alumni at UMass Amherst make every Souhegan graduate who goes there feel at home.”

Humans need three things to be happy, the science teacher said: confidence, authenticity and connection to others. At Souhegan, students are helped to gain all three, he said.

Souhegan is a “magical place,” Schlotman said. “There is no school like it in the world.”

About 210 Amherst and Mont Vernon students in the Class of 2017 graduated on the football field on Friday evening.

Katherine Maddock and Ryan Lemieux started off the speeches, reflecting on senior projects and quoting from comments about what Maddock called the “scariest, most anxiety-producing” part of senior year.

Speakers who followed them offered praise and advice, with salutatorian Eleanor Noble telling her classmates not to be afraid “to push your limits. There’s a wide world out there, and we are ready. … And the truly amazing thing about Souhegan is that we could try anything. … Souhegan has given us possibilities.”

Principal Robert Scully told the graduates they might have to break the rules, because “there are systems broken out there, and according to statistics, you will have 10 different jobs by the time you’re 36, and some that don’t exist now. The world is waiting for your new way of seeing.”

Valedictorian Madeleine Hunt, who is also The Telegraph’s female runner of the year, praised her classmates as “an immensely talented group” that has “excelled time and time again.” She told them to “be kind and listen and support one another.”

“We’ve proven we’re ready to take the next steps into the world,” Hunt said, “and we already have the attitude and aptitude.”

School Board Chairman Howard Brown, who lives in Mont Vernon, talked about how welcoming the Amherst students were toward the Mont Vernon kids when they came here for middle school.

“Be a good loser, take care of your body and don’t look back – you’re not going there,” he said.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or