Heritage class of 2014 soars into future

Eagles' graduation mixes fun, purpose

Heritage High's Class of 2014 caps off its graduation ceremony on May 22 at Littleton Public Schools Stadium. Photo b y Jennifer Smith
The Heritage High School Class of 2014 celebrated with hugs all around after the May 21 graduation ceremony at Littleton Public Schools Stadium. Photo by Jennifer Smith

Even the weather gave the Heritage High School Class of 2014 the respect it deserves on May 21, holding back its tempest until after every last one of the 400 graduates had been called up to accept their diplomas.

“When I woke up, I saw a beautiful Heritage sky,” said Principal Stacey Riendeau. “A silver sky, a scarlet sky and now we have a hint of blue.”

And under that blue sky, those Eagles soared. They also batted around beach balls and an inflatable shark, reminding parents in the stands that just because their children had reached the solemn moment of commencement didn't mean they couldn't still have a little fun.

“We know who we are and where we have come from,” said graduate Ashlen Lemon in her commencement address. “We are Eagles. We have earned the honor and title of Eagle, and now we must start living it.”

She compared their journey to that of a baby bird just starting out, taking test hops, perhaps crashing to the ground but getting back up to try again.

“But now we are strong enough to face any challenge that awaits us,” she said.

Superintendent Scott Murphy urged them to always give back to the world, as they've done with MAD Week every year. “MAD” stands for “Make a Difference,” and they do. Students raise money for continued support of the school they helped construct in 2009, Heritage High School of Kabala, in Sierra Leone, Africa.

“Do not put a limit or a number or a definition on success,” Murphy told them. “Just let success evolve. … Give back, contribute. You can make a difference, you have made a difference, and you can make amazing things happen.”

Hanna Atkinson had a special note of thanks for her fellow graduates. Born with Down syndrome, she said her greatest joy has been the friends she's made at Heritage.

“We have all changed in some way,” she said. “We have all grown up. Each one of us is strong, and together we have been stronger. … I could have stayed in the shadows, but I didn't want to be defined by my disability. I wanted to be recognized for my disability. Thank you for being accepting and kind. Thank you for being my friend.”