All of Manchester’s graduating seniors have much to be proud of when they look back on their high school accomplishments. We want members of our community to meet some of the students who have faced challenges that threatened their success, were it not for personal fortitude, ambition and strength. These are the stories they were willing to share that we hope will inspire others. They’re the reason the pomp and circumstance really matters.

Nathan Temple, Memorial Class of 2015

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Nathan Temple, front, during Memorial High School’s 2015 Memorial Day ceremony.

Nathan Temple’s family will be watching proudly when he dons his cap and gown for Memorial High School’s commencement ceremony June 13. His mother won’t be there, though. She died in October 2013, the beginning of Nate’s junior year.

“I loved her sense of humor and ability to always put a smile on my face,” Nathan said of his mom. “She always put me and my sister before herself, and I will always be grateful for that.”

About a month after his mom’s passing, Nate decided that living with his father wasn’t the best option.

“I realized, with my mom gone, how much she had been around for me and how much my dad was not,” Nate said.

With his father facing some personal challenges of his own, Nate moved in with his maternal grandparents.

“Their house feels like more of a home,” Nate said.

There were a lot of transitions in Nate’s life around that time. It would have been easy to use his circumstances as an excuse to fall behind in school. Instead, his mother’s memory was the motivating factor that pushed him through.

“My mom was always the one on me about homework and grades,” Nate said. “I thought, ‘Well, just because she’s gone doesn’t mean my grades can slip.’ She wouldn’t want that to happen.”

So through it all, Nate kept his grades up. And with his grandparents’ help, he got his driver’s license, bought his first car – (“A Mazda, but it’s already falling apart, so I think I need a new one,”) – and got a part-time job. Nate has been working at the Goldenrod Drive-In for the past year and a half.

“He is one of our most valued employees,” said Goldenrod owner Rich Webber. “Nate is hardworking, trustworthy, and punctual. He never hesitates to help a coworker. It really is rare for a person his age to juggle sports, school and work so well.”

Another big supporter Nate credits is his English teacher at Memorial, Danielle Foley. English is his strongest subject, he said, and he enjoyed her class during his sophomore and senior years. Ms. Foley noticed the change in Nate after the passing of his mother.

“Where a normally boisterous, jubilant boy once sat was now a boy who must have felt like his world was lost,” she said. “I watched Nate pull himself back up, with the help of his excellent friends, and this year, when he walked into my mythology class as a senior, I knew the old, fun Nate was back.”

Ms. Foley added that a new change in Nate is his maturity.

“I think I’ve matured more than the average high schooler needs to, but it’s helped me in the long run,” Nate said.

Now Nate is about to graduate with a 3.25 GPA and plans to join the U.S. Army National Guard. He’ll spend about five months at basic training in Missouri starting in September. Then he will come home to work before enrolling in the fall of 2016 at Plymouth State University, where he’ll study criminal justice.

“The Army pays for 100 percent of my college tuition,” Nate explained. “When I graduate, I can join and train in the OCS (Officer Candidate School).”

Officer Candidate School is the Army’s training academy for prospective Army officers. Nate also has hopes of becoming an Army Ranger, one of an elite unit. After duty in the Army, Nate wants to be a police officer.

With the future wide open to fulfilling his goals, Nate is grateful to his grandparents for helping to provide the opportunity.

“There hasn’t been a point that I couldn’t go to them, and they haven’t been there for me,” Nate said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

As for advice that other students who are struggling can take with them: “No matter how hard life gets, it can always be worse, so take every day as it comes, good or bad, and never get too down on yourself.”