AUGUSTA — In his blue cap and gown, standing in the line of soon-to-graduate students, Devin Hillock looked pleased.

Hillock joined nearly 100 Oak Hill High School classmates in capping off their time in high school at Monday’s graduation ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center.

The graduation ceremony and Project Graduation, the chemical-free graduation party that followed at the Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta, capped off long weekend’s worth of events for the graduates. On Friday, Class Day at the high school in Wales featured the class history, the class will and presentation of awards. On Sunday, the Senior Banquet in Lewiston was an opportunity to recognize the senior advisors and view the senior video.

By Monday, the students were eager to become former students, standing in the Civic Center hallway and waiting for their cue to step-pause-step their way away from childhood and toward adult responsibilities.

For valedictorian Hannah Nadeau, there was a pause, as she made a candid confession to her classmates and the hundreds family members, guardians and friends who filled the seats.

“I procrastinated on the very last thing I had to do for high school,” Nadeau said. That was writing her speech, which she settled down to do at 11 p.m. Sunday.


In it, Nadeau acknowledged that this might be the last time some of her classmates might see each other, and she urged them to remember to have fun and to think about something other than work and deadlines in the years to come.

That’s good advice for Hillock, whose path to Monday’s ceremony was not always smooth.

“I wanted to do something different from what my dad did,” Hillock said. “He ended up having kids at a really young age. It’s not a bad thing, but if he didn’t have kids he would have done so much different. But that’s in the past.”

When Hillock started first grade, he was transferred into a readiness program because he wasn’t prepared for his school work. And since then, he’s worked hard, particularly in English and geometry — two subjects he said are his downfall — to complete his work and march at graduation with his classmates who are like family to him.

While he has been working hard at school he’s also been working after school, first at Waterman Farms in Sabattus and later and still at Gowell’s Shop ‘n Save. That’s something his time with Jobs for Maine Graduates, a non-profit program that helps students in Maine navigate from middle school through high school graduation and beyond to college and work, helped him do.

And while he moved out of his father’s house at 17 after a stressful time there, he’s been able to find a place with his girlfriend where they can start saving money for their own home.


Hillock is the only one among his brothers and sisters so far to go to college, and that’s as important to him as it was to his father, who stressed that high school should come first.

“My dad told me he wanted me to go to college,” he said. “I wanted to make my dad proud. And now to hear him say it, it’s like, yeah, that’s all I need.”

A little later this month, Hillock will go to orientation at Central Maine Community College, where he’s been accepted to study business administration and management, to sign up for classes. In the meantime, he has to finish his application for financial aid and he’s planning to work two jobs, one at Gowell’s Shop ‘n Save where he has worked for two years, and the other that he’s looking to line up for the summer. He also has plans to get a commercial driver’s license because he might do some driving.

“It’s not my priority, but it’s something else under my belt,” he said.

He has his eyes on a distant prize. He would like work his way into health and fitness management and someday open his own business, a gym.

In the meantime, Hillock has his own words of advice for the students coming up behind him. Teachers are there to help, he said, and it’s best to have plans for college situated by junior year.


“Without hard work, there’s no reward. That’s just proven,” he said. “My high school wasn’t going to just hand me a diploma.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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