JACKMAN — The 11 graduates of Forest Hills High School received advice Saturday afternoon about how to best handle the road ahead from teachers, mentors, one another, and also, a United States Senator.

“I want to share with you all 10 things that I wish someone had shared with me when I was 18,” said Sen. Angus King at the Class of 2018’s graduation ceremony.

King, who launched his re-election bid for a second term in the Senate earlier this week, began his remarks by imploring the graduates to take more risks. He said the biggest thing that holds anyone back in life is self-doubt.

“The most important piece of advice I ever got, and I’m not kidding, I was a little bit older than you and my old man said to me: ‘When you get to be my age, you’re going to regret things about your life. See that you regret the things you did and not the things you didn’t do,'” he said. “Don’t look back and say, “I wish I would have tried.'”

Second, he advised the graduates to treat their first job as it is the most important job they’ll ever have. He told the story of is oldest son, Benjamin, who worked on a presidential campaign making copies out of high school. He said it wasn’t a glamorous job but he put the effort in and made an impression. The candidate lost, but years later, when former President Bill Clinton was elected, someone who worked in the White House remembered his son because of his work ethic and attitude. Two years after that he was the personal assistant to the chief of staff of the President of the United States.

“It was because he made an impression and his only job was making copies,” the Senator said. “That’s how you get a reputation.”

Some of the other pieces of advice were practical, such as always keeping a $20 bill with you at all times, because, King said, you’ll never know when you might need it.

Other tips were received by uproarious laughter.

“When in doubt, don’t get married,” King said.

“The important part of that is ‘when in doubt,'” he said. “I’m happily married but it’s a lifelong commitment, or it should be, so if it doesn’t feel all that right, just wait awhile.”

One of his final tips came with a heartfelt appeal.

“Never stop learning,” he urged the graduates. “Don’t feel that today is the end of learning. You have to continue to learn and to listen.”

Listening to each other is one the things that is missing in our country right now, he said. With that sentiment in his mind, in a touching moment, King brought up one of friends and colleagues, Sen. John McCain, who’s currently battling cancer.

“He is in a fight for his life right now,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest living Americans, so if you could, say a prayer for him at church tomorrow.”

The rest of the graduation ceremony was intimate and emotional as graduates delivered their speeches, often breaking down in tears.

The salutatorian, Demitria Giroux, told stories and referenced the inside jokes formed over the years their tight-knit group has spent together in the classroom. And finished by sharing what her 10 fellow graduates mean to her.

Carson Veilleux, the honor essayist, told his peers that while their generation is one of instant gratification, they need to equip themselves with the tools to make it through the journey for long-term gratification.

Finally, the valedictorian, Elise McKendry, said she hopes her peers take some lesson with them onto the next chapter of their lives.

She told them to adapt when the world changes around them. She told them to be independent, but still unafraid to ask for help. Lastly, she urged them to put all of their effort into everything that they do.

“Set high goals, strive to reach them and put all your effort into those goals.”

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

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Twitter: @EmilyHigg