In a sense, Adam Bunting is in his senior year as this Champlain Valley Union High School’s senior class prepares for graduation. He became the school principal as these seniors were entering as freshmen.
“I was surprised at how emotional I’ve been, partly because it’s been such an honor to watch their journey from young adolescents to adults,” Bunting said.
Class adviser Mark Pogact also said that he feels a special connection to this class. He thinks he’s gotten to know this class better than he’s known another class in his 17 years at CVU.
“They’ve had quite a bit of tragedy with a couple of kids passing. That’s probably on everybody’s mind,” Pogact said. “The way they’ve supported each other and come together … I don’t think this is ordinary.”
Bonded by tragedy
In their senior year, the CVU class of 2019 was rocked by the deaths of classmates Clark Schmitt and Paul Hoeppner.
“This group has kind of created their own personality where they’re really connected to each other,” Pogact said.
As a class adviser, this will also be a graduation of sorts for Pogact. Class advisers at CVU start with a class when it enters as freshmen and stay with them for the four years of high school.
Pogact said several events during the last four years really connected him to this class. He mentioned a “lock-in,” a night that the students spent at the school during their ninth-grade year as one of the experiences that brought him closer to this class.
“Because of those experiences, I was able to bring a group of kids to Denmark,” Pogact said. “Thursday’s going to be an emotional day.”
Bunting said that two words that popped to mind when he thought of this class are resilience and centeredness.
“It’s very evident in the day to day. People in this class pay attention,” he said. “It’s the small things that happen outside the limelight; that’s where your character is forged and displayed. They really live to take care of each other.”
A meaningful gift
This class’s gift to the school is a set of kayaks “so students can go out and continue to explore.”
Bunting said this gift is emblematic of the character of this class.
“Yes, you are a unique individual in your kayak, but you’re supporting each other,” he said. “They really celebrate individual uniqueness rather than treating it as being something to be afraid of.”
Graduation will be at 1 p.m. Friday (June 14) at the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gym.
“Since I’ve been here the graduation has become very student focused,” said Pogact. “The less you have adults speaking and the more students speaking the better.”
Bunting said that, if he were giving advice to the graduates, he would probably repeat a message he’s been repeating for a couple of years: “Confidence is not born from things always going well but from making it through struggles.”
“Actually,” he conceded. “That advice really comes from them. The other advice is that you’re never alone. They’ve always got a home here at CVU.”