READFIELD — Social studies teacher Shane Gower sent Maranacook graduates out into the real world Sunday with both arms boldly stretched into the sky, ready to conquer their fears.

Gower demonstrated “power poses” for students, which he said research shows can help people ward off fear and stress.

He said when he was in high school he was shy and feared speaking in public. He soon realized, in college, that if he wanted to reach his goal of being a teacher, he was going to have to overcome that fear. Then he came across research about how humans and animals express power through their bodies by striking poses, which, he said, produce hormonal changes which reduce stress and fear.

“I’m going to let you in on a little secret,” said Gower, who was chosen to speak by the graduating class. “Whenever I can — before class, even before speaking today — I assume a power pose for four minutes. And, believe it or not, it works.”

He then demonstrated at the podium, stretching his arms triumphantly into the sky.

“Whatever your fears may be, don’t let them interfere with your goals,” he said.

Apparently his message got through as, for the rest of the ceremony, other speakers, graduates, and teachers raised their arms in brief power poses as they took the stage.

The high school chorus, including several graduates in their black and white gowns, sang the National Anthem in the hot, packed Maranacook Community High School gym.

Principal Carol Fritz noted some of the students have been in school together since kindergarten. She thus read excerpts of Robert Fulghum’s “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

“Play fair,” Fritz said. “Don’t hit people. Clean up when you make a mess. Nap every afternoon. Say sorry when you hurt someone. And as you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Not bad advice as you get ready to leave us.”

Salutatorian Rosie Ditrie, after she raised her arms in the air as Gower had demonstrated earlier, said she would never forget the “goodwill and camaraderie of our class” and praised the many family members at graduation for their support of graduates. She also had kind words for teachers.

“Maranacook teachers so obviously love what they do,” Ditrie said. “I find that inspiring.”

Valedictorian Deanna Morris said she really didn’t have anything new to say to her classmates, since they’d been together so long, so she said she asked school staff members for their advice on how her classmates should start their lives. Their responses included: Don’t be afraid to ask questions; take the job no one else wants to do; busy people are happy people, but don’t overdo it; don’t carry resentment around; let people love and support you, because you’re worth it; and “stop along the way and take time out of your busy life to celebrate your accomplishments, just like we’re doing here today.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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