FAIRFIELD — Dressed in blue and white caps and gowns, the Lawrence High School graduating class of 2016 walked as a processional at 6 p.m. Friday into the junior high school gymnasium, past the standing crowd of expectant families to the six empty rows of blue and gray chairs in the front. A trumpet played by Loren Fields, director of the Lawrence High School Band, announced the beginning of the ceremony.

“Congratulations to you and the many significant adults in your life who have made this day possible,” Principal Mark Campbell said. “We are very proud of you.”

The graduates could be what the world needs, he said: leaders, workers and caring people.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself,” Campbell said, quoting George Bernard Shaw.

Leaders of the 141 students in the graduating class took to the stage to thank the school and challenge each other to become who they wanted to be.

Class president Madison Lessner began her speech by wishing a happy 18th birthday to Jayde Fuller, who also was graduating that day.

“There’s no better way to say it than: We made it,” Lessner said.

She thanked the school’s faculty and the two class advisors, Lynn Bustard and Renee Misner, and said the class was blessed with the most compassionate and “chill” faculty in all of Maine. She then began to thank the class.

“Thank you for endless laughter. … Thank you for an awkward freshmen orientation,” Lessner said. “Thank you for making this school a home.”

At the end of her speech, Lessner teared up and struggled to finish. She said her wish for her classmates was that they reach their dreams, and that they always know somebody loves them. A number of graduates in the front row wiped away tears as she left the podium.

The salutatorian, Lilla Tilton-Flood, was introduced by her biology teacher, Kevin Malady, who said she was “one of his heroes.”

Tilton-Flood took a different approach to her graduation speech. After asking for a round of applause for the graduates, she asked the students to shake hands with the person next to him or her, because this might be goodbye.

“In a few short hours we will no longer be high school students, but young adults going out in the world,” she said. “Know that you have a friend next to you in the years to come.”

She spoke of their generation, and how an obsession with social media and the status that comes along with it might be why, as young adults, they’re unsure of the world.

“We’re not used to real problems,” Tilton-Flood said. “We lost the ability to appreciate and gain experience from (bad times).”

She reminded everyone that “lessons can be learned from our failures.”

“It is not about the generation we are. It is about the generation we can become,” she said before congratulating the class.

Valedictorian Alexander Bevier is leaving his mark on the school with his passion to learn and succeed, said Tyler Duran, the history teacher who introduced him.

Bevier, who was also president of the National Honor Society as well as a competitive skier and swimmer during school, thanked the graduates, faculty and administration when he took the stage.

“Freedom — but freedom from what exactly?” he began. Bevier plans to go to the University of California at Santa Barbara to study physics, and he said he recently realized he will be a six-hour plane ride away from his family. He’s going to have to choose to take care of himself — wash the dishes, clean his room — and the world around him, he said.

While this is a big change, “there’s a larger world to be experienced,” Bevier said.

“Learn to expect change into your life and not fight it,” he said.

“Today is a day we have chosen what path we are on. Congratulations to the class of 2016.”

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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