BETHEL — The recurring theme of the Telstar Class of 2024 was that this group is “tiny but mighty.”

In a class of just 28 students they are tiny, in fact, the tiniest Telstar class ever.

And mighty? Winning winter carnival as juniors and seniors was “mighty.” So was starting high school during the COVID-19 pandemic. And completing high school as young adults, most with a solid plan, that is mighty as well.

Friday night, June 7, was graduation. It followed a whirlwind week of events that ended early Saturday morning when the graduates returned from their all-night celebration hosted by parents.

On Tuesday evening, the seniors, clad in gowns and mortarboards, lined the Broad Street side of the Bethel Common as a caravan of emergency response vehicles from Bethel and nearby towns blared their congratulations. Family and friends followed in their cars holding brightly decorated signs. Younger siblings giggled as they sprayed Silly String out of sunroofs. A grandmother pointed a water pistol out of a backseat window; another grandmother riding on the back of a motorcycle, high-fived a graduate.

On Thursday, the seniors revisited their younger selves at Telstar Middle School and Woodstock and Crescent Park Elementary Schools. At Woodstock Elementary School tiny faces peered expectantly toward the school bus that was parked at the front door. Woodstock third grader Wyatt Montplaisir and the other students and teachers lined the walls, applauding as the graduates paraded through wearing their caps and gowns. Montplaisir was surprised when he recognized a graduate.

Advertisement

That night at Telstar was their “Coming Together” celebration. Co-class presidents Makenzie Eliot and Morgan Zetts opened the festivities with heartfelt sentiments, highlighting the bonds that had formed among their classmates over the years. Graduating senior Lindsy Stephenson sang, “Slow down, you move too fast,” setting the tone for an evening of reflection and celebration.

The “Faces Poems'” brought laughter as all 28 graduates were roasted.

“Bella Boo, I admire you. you inspire others to be kind and you have such a great mind. Although your parents are both teachers and you have grown up in these bleachers, it’s time to go and we hope to see you grow. ”

“Tony, you are full of baloney. We’ll miss your contagious laugh …”;

“Isaac, you tried out Gould, but you got fooled. Telstar is where you should be, and I know you agree. We are glad you came back without your hair touching your back.”

“Wyatt Lilly, you’re really silly. You tend to blurt out and you’re the biggest flirt. We know you’ll do great things without a doubt. Although we love you, we’re sure the teachers are ready to get you out.”

Advertisement

“Holden Monzo, your brain is gonzo. You used to play percussion, but now you just get concussions …”

“Ben you are Connor’s best friend. There is hardly a time when you are apart, but maybe pull up your pants, that would be a good start.”

Ingraham speech

In her address, Class Advisor Tera Ingraham acknowledged the support of parents and educators, emphasizing the resilience and adaptability exhibited by the “tiny but mighty” class throughout their high school journey, particularly amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She urged the graduates to embrace challenges, cultivate gratitude, and strive to make a positive impact on the world.

She told the parents, “some people may come and go, but you are a a constant in their lives.”

As Ingraham concluded her speech, she asked the students to look under their seats for a gift from her. “I made a giant piece of birch that symbolizes us as a collective, “I cut the work into 28 pieces for you all to have a token of our time together.”

Advertisement

Graduation

In pairs, the future graduates stepped through a balloon arch and up the center aisle in the Telstar Gym to Linda Stowell’s piano rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance.” They headed to the risers, where they sat facing family and friends.

Principal John Eliot said he would miss student Lindsy Stephenson’s singing after she opened the night with, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

In Salutatorian Madison Gingras’ speech, she said, “there is a beauty when something comes to an ending … this is the start of our lives – our choices, our experiences, our story all controlled by us.”

Valedictorian Makenzie Eliot’s speech was partly about life as the principal’s daughter, but also about slowing down and living in the moment. She said she regrets the times she told her mother, “I’m just ready to be done with high school.”

When the graduates stood together to sing, “Unwritten,” by Natasha Bedingfield, the audience began to clap along. “I’m glad to see you brought the school song back,” said Principal Eliot to the giggling graduates.

Advertisement

As each of the 28 students headed to the center platform to receive their diploma, their fellow students, family and friends wildly applauded.

Leading their class one last time, co-presidents, Zetts and Eliot, faced the group and together they moved their tassels from right to left.

Next, this tiny but mighty class, tossed their mortarboards high toward the rafters.

One student was still trying to find his cap, as Dean of Students Brandy Moore read the closing.

Comments are no longer available on this story