NORTH ANSON — Carrabec High School graduated 41 students on Sunday afternoon, something members of the class and their principal said marks the school’s journey towards improvement.

“Four years ago we were told we were a failing school,” valedictorian Troy Dunphy Jr. said. “Now the atmosphere at Carrabec High School is more energized than ever. I really believe we have left the school better than we found it.”

The graduation rate has improved from 75 percent in 2008-2009 to 93 percent, according to the Department of Education. Attendance rates and SAT scores are up, and the girls varsity basketball team made it to the state championship for the first time in school history this year.

On Sunday, when the class of 2014 took to the stage in the school gymnasium, dressed in green and white robes, Principal Regina Campbell told the class that not only have they met standards, but they’ve leaped over them.

Campbell compared the class to a can of Moxie, a brand of soda that originally was developed as a medicine to calm the nerves of anxious patients.

“It takes courage and determination to drink this soda, and that’s how you’ve traveled your journey these last four years — with courage and determination,” said Campbell, who also pointed out that the brand’s slogan is “Distinctively Different.”

“I wish you the best and please continue to live your lives in a way that is distinctively different, with courage and determination,” she said.

The keynote speaker of the graduation was Brandon Berry, a professional boxer from nearby West Forks, a small town with a population of 47 year-round residents.

Berry told the students that his success as a boxer — he is undefeated in his professional career— came from hard work and never putting off until tomorrow what he could do today. Although he didn’t go to college and admitted not having taken his high school studies as seriously as he should have, Berry told the students to take pride in what they do, whether it is going to college or joining the workforce.

“I realize you all know you are graduating and it’s a big deal. Hold on to it, because once the clock hits midnight, it’s over. You can’t relive this day,” Berry said.

In addition to advising them to seize the day, he reminded the students that being from a small town is no excuse not to succeed or push yourself.

“Because we’re from small communities, we should have each other’s backs,” he said. “I’ve never let where I’m from get in my way. I made Team Berry a real thing, and I can’t believe the support I’ve gotten.”

Salutatorian John Layman reminded his classmates that although they have achieved some of their goals as high school students, they now face bigger goals as they go into the world.

“Graduation is a time to momentarily celebrate our accomplishments and the work we’ve done so far,” he said. “Going into the world means that slate is wiped clean. It doesn’t matter if you were first in your class or first out the door; we are all even.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

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