14 seniors graduate from Van Buren Secondary School

2 weeks ago

VAN BUREN, Maine – Fourteen Van Buren students received their diplomas and completed high school during a ceremony on Friday.

The graduation ceremony featured an invocation from Deacon Rodney Deschaine, a performance of the National Anthem by Title 1 teacher Janice Lapointe, and an address by principal Kylie Lapierre.

Lapierre encouraged the school’s graduating students to face any uncertainties that life may bring to them.

“The world you are stepping into is ever-changing and unpredictable,” Lapierre said. “Embrace this uncertainty with an open mind and a courageous heart. Remember that growth and progress often stem from stepping out of your comfort zone.”

CTE Teacher Steve Thibodeau was the ceremony’s guest speaker. Thibodeau, who went to high school in Madawaska, said he was honored to be chosen as the ceremony’s guest speaker.

He said his life has brought him many places, including to the United States Army and a career in computer programming. He later started coaching, and was inspired in 2016 to get a teaching degree from the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

VAN BUREN, Maine — June 7, 2024 — Van Buren CTE Teacher Steve Thibodeau was the guest speaker during the Class of 2024 graduation ceremony on June 7. (Chris Bouchard | St. John Valley Times)

“I was very passionate about the education of students,” he said. “After two and a half years, I got my degree and certification to teach business and math.”

He soon found a job opening in Van Buren, where he has had several roles including coaching, class advisor, and organizing a variety of fundraisers and events.

“My life has revolved around respect, responsibility and determination,” Thibodeau said. “That’s where all my success is coming from. These qualities can be found anywhere, and I believe they will make anyone a better person. Respect people, especially your elders, take responsibility for your actions, and be determined to succeed.”

Thibodeau then shared anecdotes about each of the graduating seniors and presented them with a challenge coin.

“My challenge goes like this,” he said. “I challenge all of you to learn every day and to be smarter than you were yesterday. I challenge all of you to work harder than you did yesterday. And I challenge all of you to be a better person than you were yesterday.”

Class speaker Mallory Beaulieu began by thanking everyone who helped the class of 2024 along the way to graduation. She said that while their class might have given some teachers trouble, teachers all looked back on them fondly and saw their potential.

Beaulieu said the COVID-19 pandemic, which cut the end of her class’s time in eighth grade short and kicked off high school with hybrid days, messed with that potential.

“It was so difficult to get used to, having a mixed up schedule with a different teacher every period, and homework piling up every week, when half the time you spent sitting in your room, hopping between Zoom classes,” she said.

After this experience, Beaulieu said her class has realized and figured out their potential. Looking to the future, she said she hopes her fellow students will all achieve their goals once they leave high school.

“It is time to take the challenge that life is in full stride, and live up to that potential,” she said. “Whether you are staying around here, or going thousands of miles away, heading straight to college or taking this free time to explore the world, I know you will all live up to the potential that has been set before you.”