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Teachers surprise MHS Seniors Picking Up Caps and Gowns

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Montpelier High School Principal Renee DeVore, foreground, celebrates a car of graduating seniors who are arriving to get their cap and gown Saturday, June 6. Photo by Carla Occaso.

One after the other, cars carrying Montpelier High School’s graduating seniors drove by the front of Montpelier High School through a receiving line of cheering teachers June 6.

“This is the last opportunity for the teachers to see seniors for the last time,” said Principal Renee DeVore. DeVore sat in a folding chair under a brilliant sun until cars carrying students pulled near. Then, she stood up and sounded an air horn with one hand while she wildly waved a green-and-white cheerleader pompom with the other hand. A retinue of faculty and staff joined in, forming a joyful receiving line on both sides of the driveway in front of the school.

MHS
Mary Ann Songhurst (left) and Mandy Abu Aziz collect their caps and gowns. Photo by Carla Occaso

One car carrying seniors Mandy Abu Aziz and Mary Ann Songhurst pulled around to whoops, cheers, waving pompoms, and music blaring from a large speaker. Abu Aziz’s Teacher Advisor, Kerrin McCadden presented them with their caps, gowns, a homemade mask, and a warm greeting before they drove off. Next came Mallory Belleville with her mother, Sharyn. Mallory, too, received her cap, gown, and a mask. Then came a car full of students and a dog. Azwayla Taylor, Bella Luhr, and Grace Valentine, along with a dog named Bean pulled through the line. DeVore said the reception of cheers and teachers had been kept a secret from seniors, who simply expected to pick up their caps and gowns.

The smiles on the faces of everyone who were not masked demonstrated that the school’s efforts to celebrate these seniors were not in vain. 

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Azwayla Taylor, left, Grace Valentine, and driver Bella Luhr pull around to get their caps and gowns at Montpelier High School June 6. The dog is named Bean. Photo by Carla Occaso.

Senior Advisor Kim Kidney said the rest of the graduation ceremony will be conducted over the course of next week. “Everyone is getting their own 10-minute graduation with family,” Kidney said. Each graduating senior will arrive for a pre-arranged 10-minute slot. They will walk across the stage and receive a diploma. The process will be recorded on video. Then, Onion River Community Access Media will splice it all together in one sequence. The final video, along with speeches and other ceremonial activities, will be presented on the MHS website, YouTube, and on the District@MRPSVT Facebook page on June 12 from 6 to 7:30 pm.  The video will remain posted, so it can be viewed at a later date.

Mallory Belleville, left, and her mother Sharyn Belleville get Mallory’s cap and gown at Montpelier High School Saturday, June 6. Photo by Carla Occaso.

Born in Montpelier. Managing editor of The Bridge from 2014-2017. Writer and editor for The Caledonian Record; correspondent and contributing writer for The Times Argus, Burlington Free Press, Green Mountain Trading Post, North Star Monthly, The Northland Journal, and other publications. English teacher and Interventionist in the Montpelier Roxbury School district.