Michael Pescheta of Londonderry, center, receives his diploma from Chester College President Dr. William Nevious as his classmates look on. Their graduation was held at Pinkerton Academy's Stockbridge Theater on Saturday morning.

DERRY | Before the 31 members of the Chester College graduating class walked into Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton Academy, they lined up laughing and exchanging hugs.

The small-class closeness is what 22-year-old Chris Sumner of Hampstead will miss most about Chester College.

"Everybody's so focused on what they do, you can't help but be entirely motivated to join in," he said yesterday after receiving his bachelor's degree from the small arts college of about 250 students.

Sumner, who is working on two novels and a screenplay, is not ready to leave behind his classmates at Chester College just yet.

He's planning to travel to Europe for a month this summer to study travel writing with a group of students. He plans to continue working on his two novels and screenplay while visiting Rome, Pompeii and Florence, he said.

"We're hoping to make an independent film in the fall, but I can't wait to go on this trip with my friends," he said.

During the one-hour ceremony, valedictorian Ashley Hale Moore said the entire class has become close over the four years at school together, even though it may not have seemed likely at first.

"Here we understand the importance of second chances," she said looking out at all of her classmates for the last time. "Four years ago there was no sense of community on campus like there is today."

The ceremony also included a commencement address from poet Rhina Espaillat, a resident of Newburyport, Mass., and native of the Dominican Republic.

Standing in front of the red backdrop, Espaillat praised the graduates for their creativity and for their community service, especially the 10 students who traveled to eastern Kentucky during spring break to build houses for poor families.

"Happiness doesn't like to be chased, it likes to sneak up on people that are pursuing something else," Espaillat said of those 10 students.

Mike Pescheta of Londonderry also said he would miss the close-knit feeling of the school after graduating.

"I'm going to miss playing Whiffle Ball and soccer with my buddies on campus," Pescheta said, who studied graphic design.

Chester Class of 2007

William Todd Abernathy

Jilian Brie Arsenault

Melissa Ann Bento

Brian William Bishop

Kevin Anthony Brassard

Heidi Angelina Brunelle

Sean William Cashman

Eric Nicolaus Crapo

Alyson Jean-Smith Fava

Nicholas Alan Greenberg

Brandon Adams Gretter

Catrin Therese Gronvall

Laura Ann Harper

Shawn Michael Houle

Crystal Dawn Lavoie

Paul Woodley Bonner Meredith

Cody James Mix

Ashley Hale Moore

Tyler E. Oliver

Jacqueline Cindy Patron

Ashley Paulk

Michael William Pescheta

Luigi Piacquadio

Troy Edward Robbins

Kara Kathleen Schulze

Rachel Anne Smaldone

Heather Lynn Soucy

Amie Elizabeth Speroni

Christopher Dorr Sumner

Kathryn Melissa Thorpe

Randall Tyler Tompkins

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