NORTH ANSON — Kyle Poissonnier, Friday night’s guest speaker for the 49th annual graduation ceremony at Carrabec High School, said he likes to tell a story about his grandfather.

When he was little, playing youth soccer, he said, a bee had been in his drink bottle during a game and it stung him hard in the mouth. He had to leave the game, embarrassed, he said.

His grandfather yelled over to him and said “Hey K — keep doing what you’re doing,” Poissonnier remembered, wondering at the time if Granddad was making fun of him.

Playing football at Husson College, Poissonnier said he dropped the ball in a big game and dislocated his finger.

Again, his grandfather was there to tell him “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

And again, he wondered if he was being made fun of.

As his grandfather got old, they would talk and the message was the same.

“I remember at the end of the night he looked at me and he said ‘K,’ he lifted his head up. He said ‘Keep doing what you’re doing,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Maybe he’s not making fun of me.'”

Poissonnier said a couple months later he spoke at a Maine Youth Leadership seminar and told his grandfather’s story and about growing up in Smithfield, Maine.

“I let everything hang out. I told them about my failures, told them about everything I had done wrong,” he said.

A girl later passed him a note thanking him for affecting her life because “you told us about your failures.”

That following January he spoke with his grandfather again, who told him that he’ll be good at whatever he does.

“I love you. Keep doing what you’re doing,” he said. “Those were the last things he ever said to me, because two days later he passed away. He was happy I was doing something I liked.”

The moral of the story, he told Carrabec graduates, is to be yourself. His grandfather was saying that if you love something, do it all the time and you’ll become great at it. “Be you.”

Poissonnier is the founder of Catalyst For Change Wear, a clothing/concert promotion/public speaking/philanthropic company. A Smithfield native, Poissonnier graduated from Skowhegan Area High School in 2003, and then from Husson University with a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing in 2008.

Sales of a fall hoodie by his company benefited the Maine Suicide Prevention Program. Other groups Poissonnier has used his company to help include the Susan G. Komen Center for breast cancer research, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, ALS research, animal shelters in Maine, Jobs For Maine Graduates, opioid addiction programs and food banks in the state.

His company made a T-shirt saying “Just a kid from Maine,” like the students graduating Friday night, reminding them to do something that they like, and then they can change the world.

The commencement exercise opened Friday night in the high school gymnasium with the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” as graduating seniors entered, dressed in green and white caps and gowns.

Class salutatorian Emilee Fortier delivered the welcome and class valedictorian Katrina Mason gave the class speech. School Principal Timothy Richards then gave his address to graduates, quoting Yoda, from the “Star Wars” movies, saying “Do, or not do; there is no try.”

“Aim high,” he said.

Regional School Unit 74 Superintendent Michael Tracy closed the speeches, saying Friday night was a celebration, the symbol of what teachers do as educators and what young people do as students.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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