SKOWHEGAN — In his reflections for the Class of 2013 during commencement exercises Sunday at Skowhegan Area High School, senior class steward Samuel Wheeler read from slam poet and teacher Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make.”

The poem is a reply to a slam on the teaching profession.

“I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could,” Wheeler, a member of the school drama team, recited from the poem. “I can make a C-plus feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and an A-minus feel like a slap in the face. I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be.

“You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them write. I make them read, read, read.”

And most of all, Mali wrote, teachers make a difference.

Wheeler’s remarks followed the grand entrance of the class of 2013, which marched to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” played live by the high school band. The girls wore white mortarboards and gowns with orange stoles; the boys wore black mortarboards and gowns and orange stoles.

Senior class president Henry Ametti led the assembly in a flag salute.

Charlotte Johnstone, who provided the welcome address, told her fellow graduates that each of them has someone in the audience who has had a profound effect on them. Quoting the late poet e.e.cummings, Johnstone said it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. Sunday’s graduates have made mistakes, but they are young and still growing and learning, she said.

“We are not who we have been, and we are not who others think us to be,” Johnstone said. “We are ourselves. I hope you will be brave enough not only to discover who we are, but to show the world your true self. Let us all strive to be courageous.”

A musical selection “On My Way” was then performed by senior Carter Stevens on piano and vocalist Mikayla Bolduc, also a graduating senior.

In her farewell to the Class of 2013, valedictorian Sarah Finnemore said she was reminded of the strong sense of community by a congratulatory card from “almost a complete stranger” who is “a friend of a friend” of her mother.

“You either love small town life or you don’t,” she said. “Coming from a small town prepares us all for the world by instilling in us lifelong values such as honesty, integrity, commitment to each other, perseverance, caring and strong ethics.

“We have learned the definition of family.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]

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