AUGUSTA — Erskine Academy Salutatorian Joseph Gould told his fellow graduates Friday night to relax and find the humor in life.

“Don’t take anything in life more seriously than you have to,” he said.

Parents, friends and family packed the Augusta Civic Center for a celebration of the hard work by the 172 students in the class of 2012. Valedictorian Marissa Bovie said all the graduates should remember to thank teachers, administrators, friends and family for helping them succeed.

“Being a teenager is, in essence, about finding yourself,” she said.

The school’s concert band and concert choir provided the music, including a soulful and upbeat rendition of “Lean on Me” that brought many people in the audience to their feet. Before the ceremony, the students gathered in a side room at the Augusta Civic Center to put on their caps and gowns — white for the girls and blue for the boys.

“Graduation means the world to me,” said Amber White, 17, of Windsor. “I struggled a lot in high school and middle school.”

With her struggles now behind her, Amber joined the National Guard and is headed to basic training in August. After that, she hopes to study criminal justice.

Two other Erskine grads — Hannah Grover, 18, of Vassalboro and Ruby Hayford, 18, of Whitefield — will be roommates this fall at the University of Maine. Ruby plans to study veterinary medicine with the goal of becoming a large animal vet, and Hannah plans to study bioengineering and Spanish.

“Graduation to me is like a stepping stone,” Hannah said.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Headmaster Michael McQuarrie presented a diploma to Raini Perry, the mother of Erskine student Hayley Blowers. Hayley took her own life a year ago, and students handed McQuarrie a rose in remembrance of Hayley as they received their diplomas.

Keynote speaker and Erskine alumnus Joshua Cobb, who graduated in 2000, told the graduates to expect some tough times ahead. Cobb will soon receive a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell University, and is considered one of the top graduate students in his field worldwide, McQuarrie said.

“Weather the storm well aboard the USS Hardship,” Cobb said. “Don’t become embittered, become empowered.”


Susan Cover — 621-5643

[email protected]

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