Keene High School Class of 2021
by Susan Peery
“I am 100 percent Nelson,” says Fallon Smith, daughter of Joy Birdsey and Peter Smith of Munsonville, and the town’s only graduating high school senior this year. “I was socialized here to be accurate with my words, to be helpful, and to learn good skills. I learned to garden and stack wood with Charlie Lang, and Judi Lang taught me to sew. When I took home economics in middle school, I was the only one in my class who knew how to operate a sewing machine.”
Many of us remember Fallon ever since she was a cherubic blond toddler, but little did we know at the time that she would have the heart of a killer competitor, especially on the ski slopes. She started skiing at age 11 at Granite Gorge. “My dad loved skiing, and I was jealous of my siblings, Jocie and Ian, so I begged to go along.” She advanced quickly, and skied for Keene High on the varsity alpine team.
Fallon was in the first all-day kindergarten class at Nelson School, and from the beginning of her formal schooling, she was drawn to math. “I think my love for math came from the Game of Village, which I did every summer,” she says, “and from the tricks and games we played in elementary school math. We were always doing math, even without realizing it.”
Fallon was active in the Nelson Congregational Church’s youth group all through middle and high school, pitching in on several mission trips, singing in the youth choir, and baking many dozens of Christmas cookies for delivery in the community.
After graduation on June 18, Fallon will spend the summer, as she has for several years, working at The Sailing Cow restaurant in Dennis, Mass., running the front end in the popular Cape Cod eatery. After that, it’s on to the University of Maine-Farmington, where she will major in secondary education and mathematics, inspired by her Nelson upbringing. “I was raised by my community to be a leader and have the qualities to be a teacher,” she explains. “I’d like to teach in middle school. It is such a turning point for kids. I’d like to help kids love math and not get turned off on math or school.”
She will be packing her skis when she leaves for Maine — she’s already been invited to join the college alpine ski team, and she will be only 10 minutes away from Titcomb Mountain for training and 45 minutes from Sugarloaf. “I felt nervous at first about not knowing anyone, and then realized everyone is in the same boat. I hope to make lifelong friendships in college. I am so excited!”
With proud parents Peter and Joy
Photos ~ Jessica Faulkner