VCSD Class of 2022 is told to ‘think parabola’ and ‘ask for help’

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
A Voorheesville senior prepares to march with his class.

NEW SCOTLAND — After the coronavirus forced graduation outdoors for the past two years, a sense of normalcy was restored with this year’s commencement as members of the Clayton A. Bouton Class of 2022 received their diplomas on the stage at the Lydia Tobler Performing Arts Center.

Charlie Beauregard had a busy graduation night. First, it was offering an introduction of Beauregard’s good friend Victoria Iacabucci, the Class of 2022 salutatorian, then following it up with an introduction of Clayton A. Bouton’s valedictorian,  Beauregard’s sister, Lelaina.

“She is by far the most hardworking and studious individual I’ve ever known,” Charlie Beauregard said of her sister. “Even going so far as to study at the Thanksgiving table.”

 “My sister inspires greatness,” Beauregard said; she is “truly an exceptional human being.”


Life is curvy

Lelaina Beauregard told the audience she spent weeks debating with herself about what she’d wanted to say with her valedictory speech, eventually settling “on something which has grown into a little life motto for me,” she said.

Beauregard will be attending Central Michigan University in the fall, majoring in both math and German secondary education. 

Beauregard said the Friday showing of the Dionysians rendition of  “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” had gone extremely well. But Saturday did not go as well. She said the musical’s stage manager “showed up beside me exhausted and sad about what had happened.”

Beauregard recounted for the audience that she’d told the stage manager the only place they had to go was up. “So that’s what I told her … I said, ‘Think parabola.’” 

Voorheesville’s valedictorian continued, “You might be wondering, ‘How can math possibly give life advice? Well, I can tell you life isn’t always a straight line. It’s rather curvy. There are highs and lows, relative maxes — maxes and mins, if you want to get math about it, mathy. There are surprises, changes in plans, goodbyes, and even pandemics, whether you want them or not. However, one thing they all have in common is that these minimums don’t last forever.”

“A promising future”

While introducing her earlier in the evening, Charlie Beauregard recounted how she first met Iacabucci. 

Beauregard had arrived in Voorheesville in the second grade. 

And for the first few months, Beauregard had no friends. Then one day, someone started to pick on Beauregard.

Beauregard couldn’t remember who it was, it was so long ago. But what Beauregard did remember was “the girl next to me told them to leave me alone and mind their own business.” Beauregard continued, “This may sound like nothing now, but back then it was something I never thought would happen.”

Beauregard asked that girl to be friends. 

“Nearly 11 years later, I am still pinching myself that she said yes,” Beauregard said; Beauregard could think of “no one with greater integrity or strength of character” than Iacabucci.

 Iacabucci told commencement attendees that just a few weeks prior to her June 24 speech, she and her cap-and-gown wearing classmates boarded a bus at the middle and high school campus and headed off for Voorheesville Elementary. 

She said she could have sworn the elementary school had shrunk, but was informed, in fact, she’d gotten bigger. Something she said she knew, but “didn’t want to believe [because] this was my first experience that really showed me just how far we’ve come as a class.”

She recounted for the audience how “all of our elementary school memories led to the moment where half of us cried while singing ‘For Good’ from ‘Wicked’ during our fifth-grade graduation.”

 The waterworks may have been dramatic, Iacabucci acknowledged, “since all we did was move five minutes down the road. But it’s no different than how we feel right now.”

She will be attending the University of South Carolina this fall and studying biochemistry.

 Iacabucci said some of her classmates “may not have the best memories” of their time at Voorheesville. But she asked them not to dwell in the past. “To you I say, ‘You don’t have to focus on how far you’ve come but rather how far you’ll go.’ Each and every person in this class has a promising future ahead of them.”


“Find a mentor”

Clayton A. Bouton principal Richard Shea commended the Class of 2022 for maintaining its “grit and determination” and making it to graduation night. 

He told the audience some graduates would be off to college on the other side of the country, in Colorado and California. Some would be heading for warmer environs, in Florida; others felt differently, and chose to attend school in Michigan. And many chose to stay in New York. 

 Shea said graduates would be studying forensics, civil engineering, education, business, sports management, medicine, psychology, programming, music, science, graphic design, pre-law — “and that list goes on.”

Other students decided college wasn’t for them, he said; they received a career and technical education certificate that puts them “at the forefront of the workforce in areas such as heavy machinery, welding, aviation, among others.”

Shea then offered the graduates some advice.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he said. He also told the members of the Class of 2022 to “find a mentor. Do this day. I think about the adults that have mentored me to be the person I am today. Find someone that you admire, and can look and look up to as an example.”


“Just a pitstop”

Shannon Spollen, an English teacher in Voorheesville’s high school who spoke to the Class of 2022 earlier in the day, offered graduates perhaps the best story they could have heard on June 24: A first-hand account of not getting everything right away and experiencing a little disappointment with what is, at the time, the most consequential event in a person’s life.

But Spollen first congratulated the graduates on handling “curveball after curveball with a resilience that still astounds me.”

She then told the Class of 2022, “I took the scenic route, and I failed — a lot. I was waitlisted by my school of choice. Convinced that this hindrance was going to derail the rest of my life because it wasn’t part of the plan. I am a person that plans. And I was embarrassed, ashamed, sad, and nervous.” But she said it ended up as “just a pitstop.”

One of Spollen’s friends had applied to her first-choice school and been accepted, Spollen said, and invited her along to an open house. “I was skeptical. It felt like adding insult to injury; rubbing salt in my wounds.”

At the open house, Spollen, her friend, and her friend’s mother wandered into a lecture hall where they “found a tall gentleman in a brown suit that seemed out of place on such a warm spring day.”

Her friend’s mother asked the man for a tour and he obliged, she said. 

Spollen explained to the man her plight, but conveyed an “optimism about my future. [Because] I knew that people transferred after the first year all the time.”

At the end of the tour, “it hadn't occurred to me until that moment that I didn’t know his name,” Spollen said of the man leading the tour. “I felt a muscle in my jaw clench as he introduced himself,” she said, as Robert Andrea, the director of admissions for the University at Albany, handed her his business card. 

A few weeks later, Spollen said she was working in the pizza shop where she’d been employed since she was 15. She looked up and saw her mother in tears. “‘Dr. Andrea called,’ she said … ‘There were only two spots … and you got one.” 

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