READFIELD — As Sydney Green prepared to march with her fellow graduates Sunday afternoon, the 18-year-old from Manchester said she was excited and nervous for the ceremony and her future after high school.

“It’s really bittersweet. I’ve enjoyed my time at Maranacook immensely,” she said. “And it’s going to be difficult to go on to something new, but I’m excited.”

For Green, that something new is still unknown. She plans on attending the University of Maine, but she’s going into the school’s Explorations Program for undecided students. She said it’s “really nerve-racking” not knowing what she’s going to do, but her teachers have told her going to college undeclared is a good idea.

“That way I can go in and really explore and figure out a path I truly love,” Green said.

The future of the 92 Maranacook Community High School graduates was a popular topic in the commencement addresses at the school Sunday.

The class speaker, Greg Durgin, a longtime staff member and a senior adviser, told the graduating seniors to do what he does: ride a bicycle every day.

“Put on a helmet, ride away your stress and your fears,” he said. “You will learn about yourself. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy.”

At the start of his speech, Durgin asked the audience to take a moment of silence for Peter Poulin, a former teacher and coach at the school. Poulin died of cancer in February at the age of 65.

Natalie Wicks, the class valedictorian, recalled the accomplishments of some of her fellow graduates in her speech, like a classmate who fit 28 grapes in her mouth and another who ate 25 crab rangoons in one sitting.

In accomplishments unrelated to food, Wicks noted a student who worked two jobs and a classmate who set a personal 100-meter dash record and the many students, like her, who fought through depression and mental illness.

“The more you believe you can do something, the more likely you will be able to do it,” Wicks said. “Strive to be bigger than you are.”

Elizabeth D’Angelo, the class salutatorian, said that even though everything is changing, she and her classmates will have many opportunities headed their way.

“We’ve all imagined what life’s going to look like after high school,” she said. “We don’t know what the future’s going to hold for us, but we know it’s going to be an adventure. Like any adventure, it will have its ups and downs.”

D’Angelo told her classmates to remember their friends, the community, the graduation, the bittersweet feeling and the fear. No matter what grades students received in schools, all of them are capable of greatness, she said.

D’Angelo asked them: “Will you sit back and never challenge yourself to become more, or are you willing to do the work and leave your mark on the world?”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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