A poised Ethan Pierce, speaking during graduation ceremonies Sunday at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, told fellow members of the Freeport High School class of 2016 that he could not fulfill one of the requests made of him by teachers and staff members who selected him to address the audience.
Pierce, headed for Vassar College this autumn, told the audience that he had been asked to speak for the whole class.
“I cannot do that,” he said. “There’s too much diversity, learning styles and personalities.”
So Pierce took a different tact. Instead of mentioning “good colleges, bright students, awards and accomplishments and blah, blah, blah,” he said, the best part of the past four years at Freeport High is the relationships formed there. To illustrate his point regarding the diversity of his classmates, Pierce named four of them, and paired each with a teacher who best fit their needs.
Pierce paired Miranda O’Shea, who has a passion for engineering, with science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher David Smail.
“Mr. Smail has a willingness to push students to be their best,” Pierce said. “That relationship is the strength of Freeport High School.”
Pierce matched Painter Soule, who plans to do much traveling, with class adviser/French and Latin teacher Diane Whitmore. Brandon Soule, who wants to be a member of the Freeport Fire Department, was paired with educational technician Brian Flaherty, who is known for persistence. And Lily Johnston, class valedictorian who will attend Bowdoin College, was paired with English teacher Lisa Blier, known for her creative spirit.
Pierce then asked his 115 classmates to stand and yell out the name of his or her favorite faculty member, which they did in unison.
“Now look at the class of 2016 who is about to graduate,” Pierce said. “And all the teachers and administrators here today. And try and comprehend the incredibly complex web of relationships and passions and proclivities and post-grad plans represented here today. And that picture, that web you have probably only just scratched the surface of, is what really sets us apart And as we all head on to our various ‘nexts,’ I know that we won’t tear down this web and leave behind this web that we have created, but instead we expand it and continue to expand it, the reach of the class of 2016, for as long as we can.”
Samantha Jordan, class president, and Brayden Chapman, who is virtually blind and an honors student, also spoke to the audience at Merrill Auditorium, chosen for the ceremony due to ongoing construction at the high school. Brian Campbell, outgoing principal, and Michelle Ritcheson of Durham, chairwoman of the Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors, passed out diplomas. Maxwell Greenwood and Lucy Sandin led the graduates into the auditorium, to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Jordan, bound for MEMA Technical Education Center in Brunswick this fall, thanked everyone for their “incredible patience” with the students.
“We cannot thank you enough for putting up with us,” she said. “And I learned things from my family that cannot be taught in a classroom.”
Chapman read from a special iPad, and said he was nervous at first, thinking of speaking at graduation.
“My father just told me to picture every one in their underwear, and honestly, that’s making it a lot worse,” Chapman said, to laughter.
Chapman said he is both elated and sad to have moved through the grades with his classmates.
“What I will miss is the people who stood by me for that experience,” he said. “We’ve spent nearly our entire lives waiting for this moment. This is the last time we will ever do something all together.”
The crowd attending Freeport High School graduation exercises Sunday makes its way down Myrtle Street in Portland, and into Merrill Auditorium.
Kay Nakagaw sets up her flower arrangement on Myrtle Street in Portland, to sell later to people attending the Freeport High School graduation across the street, at Merrill Auditorium.
Freeport High School students turn their tassles Sunday to signify their graduation from the high school.
Ethan Pierce addresses his fellow Freeport High School classmates at graduation ceremonies Sunday in Portland.
Miranda Jean O’Shea stands to be recognized during Freeport High School’s graduation ceremony. O’Shea is entering the U.S. Air Force post-graduation.