FAIRFIELD — Former Lawrence High School Principal Mark Campbell took some time Thursday night to brag about the Class of 2019.

The average daily attendance rate for the class was above 90%, he said. And 40% of class members are graduating with honors or high honors, meaning they were on the honor roll for at least 12 of 16 quarters of their academic careers.

The number of dual enrollment classes the students took for college credit is almost double what it was five years ago.

Lawrence High School student Jessica Dionne speaks happily about graduating and her time in School Administrative District 49 Thursday prior to commencement in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Fifty-four percent of the class is going on to four-year colleges and 84% are continuing their education either at college, technical school or in the military, Campbell said Thursday during commencement exercises at Lawrence Junior High School.

“I am so proud of you and all you’ve done over the last four years,” he told the 148 graduates. “Like your parents I wondered if you really listened to me but with the utmost pride I can say, yes, you heard every word. Thank you.”

During the ceremony student speakers thanked their teachers, administrators, parents and classmates with individual messages reflecting on the last four years and the future.

Lawrence High School includes students from Albion, Clinton, Benton and Fairfield.

Class President Abigail LaRochelle spoke about moments from a freshman year movie night fundraiser to senior homecoming and others in between that were both rewarding and stressful.

“As difficult as it may have seemed at times, the hardest and most exciting part is yet to come,” LaRochelle said. “After today we are diving headfirst into the rest of our lives. From here, we will all go our separate ways and follow our dreams.”

Some graduates will head to places as far as North Carolina, New York City, Canada and Peru, LaRochelle said.

“But, wherever your path may bring you, do not fear the future,” she said. “Our whole lives are a series of taking leaps of faith and moving forward. In sixth grade we said goodbye to recess and circle time for a bigger school with different kids and more homework.

“And then again in eighth grade we went from being the top dogs of the junior high, to the annoying freshmen that literally everyone hates. Now, once again, we are jumping into the unknown.”

Valedictorian Kiana Joler reminded her classmates of the importance of laughter and friends and family to get through hard times.

“I learned that I have to laugh through the bad, or I will never come out of it,” she said. “I have to push through the negative, fighting it with humor, friends and family, and by just being immature for a few minutes.”

And Salutatorian Matthew Brown said that after Thursday’s ceremony members of the Class of 2019 should remember to be proud of themselves for the accomplishment of getting to graduation.

“The next five years will be the most influential of our lives,” Brown said. “In the graduating class we have future firemen, engineers and nurses. We have policemen, architects, therapists. We have the military leaders, chemists and businessmen of tomorrow. What each and every one of you have set up for yourself is mystifying and incomprehensible.”

Several students at Thursday’s graduation applauded the presence of their former principal, a special guest at the graduation after he resigned from his job in April following the implementation of a controversial administrative restructuring plan that had been scheduled to replace the high school principal with a grades 7-12 principal.

“We’re so happy,” said graduate Jessica Dionne. “A lot of people wouldn’t have walked on the stage if (Mr. Campbell) didn’t hand out our diplomas.”

Dionne, who plans to study neuropsychology at the University of Maine at Augusta, said she was excited but also nervous about the future.

“It’s kind of nerve wracking to think about,” she said.

Hailey Higgins, who plans to attend Plymouth State University in New Hampshire to study marketing and political science, also said she was happy to have Campbell at Thursday’s ceremony.

“He was pretty vital in me graduating and helped a lot with students in different situations,” she said. “There are a lot of students that probably wouldn’t be here today (if not for him).”

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