SKOWHEGAN — In her remarks Sunday afternoon during commencement exercises for the 2017 graduating class at Skowhegan Area High School, senior honor student Sarah Brooker urged her fellow classmates to be like the “big, bearded burly guy” she saw knitting a scarf on a Boston subway train.

“This man had the guts and the passion to ignore the stares and the laughs and to knit to his heart’s content,” Brooker said to graduates, family members and friends. “We can take a chapter from this man’s book — we can’t major in passion. Instead, make it your focus to do something with that passion.”

Brooker told the class to create change; to evolve; to imagine and to follow their hearts and do something that they love once they are out in the new world after high school. Never stop growing, she said:

“Go forth and set the world on fire,” she said.

The afternoon celebration Sunday opened for the estimated 160 graduates and friends with a musical medley performed live by the full Skowhegan Area High School Concert Band under the direction of Jennifer Fortin. The band, complete with big drums and reed instruments, then segued into the musical performance of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Graduating seniors marched in black and white caps and gowns, complemented by orange carnations and stoles.

Following a salute of the flag led by Senior Class President Samuel Bolvin, a reading of “If” by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling was given by Senior Class Steward Sydney Lyman.

“If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And — which is more — you’ll be a man, my son,” she read from the classic poem.

Seniors Sarah Pastio and Joshua Rogers next performed “At The Beginning,” from the musical “Anastasia.”

In his welcome to the assembly Sunday, Rogers noted that this day was the start of a whole new life with new freedom. But he cautioned, with the new freedom, come responsibilities.

He compared each of the graduating students to a piece of rope, asking if they were going to live the rest of their days wearing themselves down to just a thread. Or would they use their lives like the separate threads of the rope — intertwined with others to make a strong strand.

“Like intertwining strands of the rope, one by one, we’ll become stronger by taking on new challenges one at a time,” he said. “To find your maximum load, you have to know what is important and what fits you. Stay close to your maximum load.”

Rogers’ address was followed by a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” performed by Grace Pollis and then by the Kelly Clarkson song “Break Away,” sung by Mariah Bonneau and Libbie Magoon.”

In his farewell to the Class of 2017, as audience members fanned themselves with commencement programs in the 90-degree heat, Brendan Curran told his classmates that the four years of high school have been “long, difficult, emotional, productive and eventful.”

There were some big things that happened and some little things — some crazy, amazing and even mundane moments, he said, taking on memories of sports, politics, parfaits in the lunch room, favorite and not so favorite classes, teachers, homecoming events, and dances.

“We all have to say goodbye to these memories that have meant so much to us,” he said, noting that leaving brings up some sad thoughts, but it’s not all sad. “Life is about to change in a big way.”

Diplomas were presented to the graduating class by Timothy Downing, chairman of the school board; Superintendent of Schools Brent Colbry and Monique Poulin, high school principal. Class Marshals were Samuel Bolvin and Student Council vice-president, Emily Lam.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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