READFIELD — A passing downpour before the graduation ceremony started sent the students in caps and gowns scrambling into Bearce Hall, but the sun came out in time for relatives and friends to watch all 78 seniors receive their diplomas.
For Molly McAleer, of Orono, someone special presented her diploma to her — Rist Bonnefond, the former head of school who stepped down in 2011 after his 21-year tenure.
McAleer’s two older brothers, Patrick and Jack, attended Kents Hill School while the former headmaster was there, and McAleer said Bonnefond has had a big impact on her family.
McAleer will be following in one of her brother’s footsteps by attending U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in the fall.
“I love this place,” McAleer said on the lawn after graduation. “It’s such a beautiful campus, but I’m definitely going to miss my teachers and classmates.”
The student speaker, Harry Adams, told the other graduating students to think about their happiest moments at Kents Hill School and to hold on to them.
“It’s the unscripted, unchoreographed moments that really shape a kid’s time here,” said Adams, the class president. “The moments I’ve had here need more than a photograph to capture. When I think back on my years here as a student, I’ll remember my happiest moments. Bonding in the dorms with my best friends. Watching the sunset from the balcony of the dining hall.”
Adams, of Readfield, will attend Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., in the fall.
The commencement speaker, author and activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, of Belgrade, thanked the graduating students for their love and told them to remember their love of the school and the people they met.
“What I hope will remain with you, after all of this becomes a blur, are your memories of ways during these last four years you have been loved by your teachers, your friends and your families, and the way you have shown us the love within you,” she said.
Boylan, whose son was graduating, also spoke about her experience of coming out as transgender in 2001 to her 85-year-old conservative, evangelical mother. Boylan said her mother told her she would never turn her back on her child and that love would prevail.
“And in my own life, I have found that to be true again and again,” she said. “I hope that in the years to come, you all will find this to be true as well: That not matter what you’re up against, no matter what impossible truth you have to face, love will prevail.”