AUGUSTA — Students donning red and blue robes with matching caps congregated on Thursday near the front entrance of the Augusta Civic Center, posing for pictures with friends and family in the brisk, breezy evening.

As the ceremony neared, Messalonskee’s graduating class filed into order. The girls in red gowns lined up to the right as the boys in blue stood to the left.

Principal Jonathan Moody welcomed the class in his opening remarks, telling the graduates he’s confident that each of them will chart their own course and give their all.

“You are loved,” Moody told the students, “and we will always be behind you in every endeavor you do in your lives.”

Anna Schwartzberg, valedictorian of the graduating class of 171 students, reflected on the role school has served in her life and the lives of her classmates.

“Our time here at Messalonskee has been dedicated to making ourselves personally better people, so that we’re prepared to conquer whatever challenges are placed before us,” Schwartzberg said.

Jai Aslam, the salutatorian, urged the graduating class to reach out and meet people they don’t know. He said high school served as a lesson in people, not a lesson in subjects such as mathematics.

“There are some wonderful people out there in the world. No matter what they’re interested in or if they wear clothes that you think are weird,” he said, “you’re going to miss out on them if you don’t try to talk to them, and that would be your loss.”

Chelsey Oliver, class president, tried telling the story of her class. She recalled the challenges they faced and the feats they accomplished — in athletics, in the classroom and amongst themselves.

She spoke about her own experience in athletics and of the time she suffered injures in both her knees on two separate occasion on the soccer field.

“A second torn ACL meant hanging up the cleats for good, something I never expected to do until after college,” Oliver said. “But the surprising thing is I feel as though I had just as much fun not playing soccer as I did playing it. I got to watch all of my best fiends shine on the field as their biggest fan.”

She said many doors in their lives have closed recently, and she’s not sure how they’re supposed to feel.

“Are we expected to cry and wish we could go back to yesterday? I think the answer is no,” Oliver said. “We are closing all of these doors, but so many more will be open in the near future.”

Oliver said regardless of where they go in their lives, they’ll never forget their graduating class.

“Leave here today and begin making your mark,” she said. “Lead a path that is expected of you or be a little crazy and do the unexpected. Class of 2013, congratulations on all of your accomplishments and good luck with everything.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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