AUGUSTA — When high school graduation looms, it’s often a time to reflect.

For Delaney Keithley of Chelsea, the days leading up to Sunday’s Cony High School graduation exercises were a chance to gain some perspective on both the education and life lessons she learned during her high school career.

“It’s not about the academics, necessarily,” Keithley said Friday, the day she turned 18. “It’s going through four years with a class, and the teachers and principal, and you know they are proud of you and want you to do well,” she said.

She learned not only her subjects, but how to deal with the disappointment of not doing as well as she had hoped.

“Doing not as well as you want on one test doesn’t make or break the high school career,” she said. “Once I got that, I was fine.”

As a three-sport athlete, Keithley said she was compelled to develop another critical skill — time management and working out her priorities.

It has served her well; in the fall, she’ll attend Colby College, where she will study biology and play field hockey, which was one of her high school sports.

Her advice to the Class of 2021 is simple. Get involved early.

“You will have the upper hand,” she said. “There’s so much you miss as a freshman and sophomore because you are afraid to join.”

This year, it was also a time for Kimberly Silsby, Cony High School principal to reflect on the passage of time, because her own daughter, Molly Silsby, was graduating as the class valedictorian.

Molly Silsby’s speech took the form of an open letter on behalf of her class of 124 to Cony High School. She offered up thanks to the school for allowing her and her classmates a chance to grow, for teaching the value of hard work, for showing how to handle loss and disappointment, and for shaping them into the people they are today.

“Amid the high school struggle of determining whether or not we should conform and give into peer pressure,” the 17-year-old said. “It was important over these last four years that we developed a strong sense of self in the process. And whether that confidence allowed us to wear cut-off jean shorts and cowboy vests to school or play the electric guitar in the library, I think we can all agree that you, Cony have played in insurmountable role in our own lives. We are strong, confident, self-reliant and outspoken. You guided us along a journey of discovery and for that we are all grateful.

Kimberly Silsby addressed her comments to the family members who were ranged across the auditorium at the Augusta Civic Center just behind the ranks of students in their red and white graduation gowns.

She spoke about the speed at which children grow and change, from the 4-year-olds who seek refuge in their parents bed after a bad dream to the adolescents who speak only in monosyllables and the

“We all prioritized different lessons for our kids,” she said. “And we’re here today and we realize they have become the people we dreamed they would become.”

Although this chapter of their lives is coming to an end, she said, it’s just the beginning of an amazing adventure for all of the graduates.

“You have all done it, both the people who brought the students here today and the graduates themselves,” she said. “I truly hope that all of you enjoyed the ordinary days of life. It is really where our living happens.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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