BETHEL — It was an emotional night Friday at Telstar Regional High School’s commencement exercises as 41 members of the Class of 2017 received their diplomas.

They remembered their friends who weren’t with them on stage, and learned life lessons through books and movies.

“Keep your book called ‘Life’ in good condition, because there is no going back and rewriting it,” salutatorian Joshua Eliot told his classmates.

Eliot spoke of books in his speech, encouraging his fellow graduates to “be active participants” in their decisions regarding their futures, and know that there are many chapters of their lives still to be written.

Valedictorian Kristi Hanscom shared the lessons she learned from Disney movies over the years — how Pinocchio taught her honesty is the best policy, Belle of “Beauty and the Beast” taught her not to judge a book by its cover, and “Winnie the Pooh” brought to light the importance of moderation.

She ended with a quote from Walt Disney himself: “First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare.”

Not only did the graduates look to the future, they also pondered the past, and their beloved classmate, Regan Kauf, who passed away of leukemia last year.

The front of the commencement packet read, “‘A beautiful soul is never forgotten’ — in loving memory of Regan Kauf.”

It was clear that Kauf’s classmates were not only thinking of themselves, but also of her: from the orange balloons representing leukemia awareness floating in the gym, to the moment of silence immediately following the national anthem.

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Telstar Regional High School graduate Sierra Ryerson holds up a sign given to her by a younger student during the Class of 17 “marching tour” Friday of Crescent Park Elementary in Bethel, Woodstock Elementary School in Woodstock, Andover Elementary School in Andover and Telstar Middle and High schools in Bethel.

The Telstar Class of 2017 on the bus during their “marching tour” on Friday morning, when they visited three elementary schools in the district.

From left, Elijah Lard, Jessica Pike, Luke Mason, Maggie Bergeron and Taylor Merrill walk through the halls of Telstar High School with their fellow graduates to complete their “marching tour” on Friday morning. Students visited the elementary schools in the district, and finished with a walk through Telstar Middle and High schools.

Teyha Johnson, left, Kelley Fraser and Mallory Corriveau share a moment before graduation on Friday night at Telstar High school in Bethel.

Kristi Hanscom delivers her valedictory address speech to the Telstar High School Class of 2017 on Friday night in Bethel.


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