PITTSFIELD — The graduating class of 2016 at Maine Central Institute was given a hefty dose of wisdom on Sunday by the longest-serving headmaster in the school’s history.

Douglas C. Cummings led the school from 1986 to 2004. After talking about the school’s history and changes, he told students to challenge their comfort zones, learn about themselves and, most importantly, to go after what they’re good at and work to become even better.

“Everybody falls in the water once in a while, but no one ever drowned from falling in the water,” he said. “They drowned because they didn’t pick themselves up by the bootstraps and pull themselves out.”

The class of 118 graduates in maroon and white caps and gowns listened to Cummings in the campus gym, where the commencement ceremony was held at noon after the senior brunch. On the maroon podium at the front of the gym, behind where faculty and the valedictorian sat, was a white board printed with the Class of 2016 motto, a quote from Tim McGraw: “Chase your dreams but always know the road that’ll lead you home again.”

Cummings, now an educational consultant at Educators’ Collaborative, reminded students not to lose the memories they made while at MCI.

“During the past 12 years, in this place we call school, you have built a foundation,” he said.

MCI is celebrating 150 years as an institution and its theme this year was character, according to Headmaster Christopher Hopkins.

“What better class than these seniors to embody this theme,” Hopkins said. He also thanked faculty for their part in helping the students get this far and asked the senior class to stand and express their gratitude with applause.

“You won’t realize the impact they had on you until you’re much older,” he said.

Hopkins introduced Valedictorian Abigail DeSchiffart, who he said got involved in “every aspect of campus life” and was successful in many things other than academic excellence.

DeSchiffart began her address by comparing life to climbing a mountain.

In the beginning you pack and prepare, she said, which is like childhood. As a freshman, you are at the base of the mountain looking up, which can be terrifying.

“Now, we find ourselves at a stopping point,” DeSchiffart said. “Far from the top, but with a different outlook. Looking down, everything looks so small.”

Today, she said, is about looking back.

DeSchiffart thanked the faculty at MCI, as well as family and friends and anyone else who helped shape the lives of the graduates before posing a challenge to her peers.

“Take the next few days to rest … Enjoy the view,” she said. “And never forget what we have learned from each other.”

The class has students from 11 different countries, which helped DeSchiffart learn about different cultures more than any book did, she said.

“Go out into the world and take that knowledge with you,” she said. “All the while showing the ones behind you the rope and rungs as you climb.”

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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