PITTSFIELD — The speakers at the Maine Central Institute’s 144th graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon urged students to pursue success, but not at the expense of personal relationships.

A large crowd attended the sunny outdoor ceremony to see diplomas awarded to 95 students, many of whom had taken classes at the Somerset Career and Technical Center, a partner organization.

The independent high school, which was founded in 1866, has about 450 students, including about 140 who live on campus.

Commencement speaker Michael J. Chase has earned the nickname of “the kindness guy” ever since he founded the Kindness Center in Biddeford in 2007.

Chase, who has built a living on the idea of spreading kindness in the world, told the graduates his advice to “dreamers” for pursuing their aspirations, no matter how unlikely.

First, he told the students they must make a firm decision that fully commits them to their goal.

Second, he said, they should “forget about how” and instead “focus on why.”

“The job title isn’t important,” he said. “It’s why you’re doing it.”

He also warned the graduates that they must learn to deal with opposition.

“Get used to the fact that there are non-dreamers in the world who will cut you down, who will criticize you,” he said.

Ultimately, he said, they had to have a conviction in their goals that allowed them to hear that criticism without being deterred. However, he cautioned against seeking isolation as a defense against criticism.

“Don’t build a wall around your heart,” he said. “You do need others.”

Class valedictorian Brittany Kay Seekins delivered an address to her fellow students, in which she told the story of her own transformation from a freshman who was beset by fears of failing to score the best grades to a senior who has learned how to balance life and school.

She said that, while school is important, she now knows that it is not the only thing in life.

“We all need balance, and it can be difficult,” she said.

Salutatorian Morgan Lyn Thiess delivered an address during a Senior Chapel ceremony on Friday afternoon.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

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