AUGUSTA — On an evening that felt more like early April than early June, Lauren Garand and her 87 Oak Hill High School classmates waited at the Augusta Civic Center for the call to line up to start their march to the future.

Friends and family marshaled their younger children, hugged their graduates-to-be and handed out bunches of red roses in the minutes leading up to the start of the ceremony. As they filed in to the main auditorium to take their seats, the Oak Hill High Band readied for its performance.

For the 18-year-old from Litchfield, Monday’s commencement marked the close to one chapter in her life and the start of the next.

Garand’s high school accomplishments are spelled out on the white stole she wore to signify her membership in the National Technical Honor Society and the pins it bore showing her four years as a cheerleader. The gold cords testified to Garand achieving a 3.0 grade point average and the white cords showed she achieved an 85 average with 27 credits.

Among the standard benchmarks of commencement ceremonies — Pomp and Circumstance, the awarding of scholarships and the awarding of diplomas and the cheers — memories from the four years the students spent together emerged.

Anna Dodge, the class salutatorian, identified herself as the girl in middle school who dressed every day as a boy and played football. Once she entered high school, she said, she was scared of what people would think of her, so she changed her style — something that lasted about a year before she reverted to sweatpants. It is, she said, who she is.


“In a few short months we’ll be packing up our boxes and moving away,” she said. “We have all been looking forward to this day. Now that it’s come, I’m so scared for the future.”

That future includes taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. Even as that happens, she counseled her classmates: “Don’t let others stop you from doing the things you love. The future will be stressful. Just remember to be yourself.”

Michaela Gervais, the valedictorian, shared a little of what she had learned — the importance of carrying on even when you forget an entire verse of a song you’re singing in the school play as a freshman.

“Was it embarrassing? Yes. Was it scarring? Definitely a little bit, but I got cast in other parts. You have to try your best and go with the flow, which is hard for me, because I am a stubborn person.”

And while she did well academically, she pulled back the cover a little and revealed that she was a procrastinator, delaying projects until the night before they were due. Sometimes, she said, you have to fake it until you make it.

“If you’re going to be a mess, be a hot mess,” she said.


The roses and other flowers carted around earlier in the evening were for students to give out to friends and family gathered at the Civic Center to show their appreciation for their support.

Oak Hill High School is part of Regional School Unit 4, which encompasses Sabattus, Wales and Litchfield.

After graduation, Oak Hill’s Project Graduation party was scheduled to start at 9 p.m., at the Alfond Youth Center in Waterville.

For Garand, who couldn’t say yet what she would do the day after graduation or the day after that, the next chapter will start in Wisconsin, where she’ll attend North Central Technical College in Wausau, enrolled in a general studies and pre-nursing program.

Garand said she chose Wisconsin because that’s where her father lives.

With that level of certainty comes a bit of the unknown.


“I’ve visited in the summer,” she said, “but I have never been through a winter.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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