KENTS HILL — The students who graduated on Saturday from Kents Hill School were urged to remember the past while moving toward their future.

The private school’s 191st commencement ceremony was marked by a brilliant blue sky but a cold, blustery wind that swirled around the 66 graduates and their family and friends. The graduates hail from 13 Maine communities, 11 states and 10 countries.

Guest speaker William “Bro” Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, whose daughter Carmen Adams was among the graduates, said support from parents was critical in each graduate’s success.

“Without you, and not just your financial support, but most importantly your psychological support and emotional support, these students would not be where they are today,” Adams said. “In the many and small moments, you were there for them.”

Adams said the faculty and staff’s support of the students impressed him.

“You made it possible for them to succeed by your determination that they would succeed,” Adams said. “Their success is your success.”

The class motto, chosen its freshman year, has been “Persevere.” Adams commended the students for living up to that motto. He urged the students to look back on that success to help push them through the difficult challenges they face in the future.

“In all these moments, you did persevere,” he said. “That perseverance was clear and demonstrable, and it’s paying off today.”

Most of the students will continue their educations, Adams said. The experiences they gain at those colleges and universities will change who they are. He encouraged parents to accept those changes.

“Your encouragement for their growth and change will be enormously helpful,” Adams said.

He urged the students to use their time in college to push beyond their comfort zones and to direct their studies by a compass of personal growth rather than career preparation.

“If you follow what you think is professionally relevant, you risk missing the experiences that will matter most,” Adams said.

Adams, the former president of Colby College in Waterville, extolled the benefits of a liberal arts education as a means of creating critical thinkers and well-rounded citizens.

“We tend to under-value the power and value of the liberal arts and liberal learning,” he said.

Adams reminded the students to carry the experiences at Kents Hill into the future.

“Commencement is the beginning of new things,” he said. “I hope you won’t forget about Kents Hill. Everything that happened here was, in some sense, a gift from the students who came before you.”

Kevin Rodgers, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, whom classmates selected as the only student-speaker, took Adams’ advice to heart, reflecting on some of the experiences he gained during his four years at the school.

“I figured I’d use this time to reflect on some of the great memories and people I’ve met during the past four years,” said Rodgers, who was a captain of the varsity mountain biking and lacrosse teams.

Rodgers, who will play junior hockey next year, recalled a class snowball fight his freshman year. One student, Alex Lin, made a snowball a few feet in height. The students made the ball even bigger by rolling it to the Alfond Athletics Center. Rodgers said a school official congratulated the students for the size of the snowball, but asked them to move it from the Alfond’s entrance.

“The hard part about it is that the snow turned to rain and it froze the giant snowball,” Rodgers said. “It ended up staying through March break and finally melted in April.”

Sophomore year was a year of limbo. The class were no longer new freshmen, but neither were they close enough to graduation to look forward to it.

“I like to remember this year as the dark ages because for some reason no one remembers much about that year,” Rodgers said. “The two things I do remember was that was the year of the chicken poo and we also had the Taiko drummers come perform for mandatory fun.”

The “poo” was a reference to the fertilizer placed on a nearby field, the stench of which wafted in the wind over the school, and the drummers “were a change of pace from the norm.”

Junior year, Rodgers said, was marked by falling in love with gaga ball.

“We took extreme measures in capture the flag, like going along the shore line just so no one would see you,” he said.

Rodgers said he was shaken by the prospect that Saturday marked the last time the class would be together.

“It’s a surreal feeling because these classmates of mine have been a large part of my Kents Hill experience,” he said. “If it was not for them, this would just be another high school.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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