RICHMOND — As the 28 students lined up in the hallway Saturday outside the gym at Richmond High School, probably for the last time, the one question that floated up above the buzz and the din was both practical and philosophical.

“How big of a step are we supposed to take?” one soon-to-be-graduate asked.

The moment passed, and they filed in to take their seats on stage in front of friends and family for the ceremony that marked the end of their high school years.

Two of those seniors, Hannah Moholland, 18, and Daniel Stewart, 18, have their next steps planned.

Moholland, who lives in Richmond, plans to study early childhood education at the University of Maine at Farmington. Stewart’s plan will take him from Dresden to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzard’s Bay, where he will study emergency management.

“I want to go into the FBI,” he said Wednesday. “If not, there’s all sorts of different things I can go into.”

With all their homework done and tests taken and only days to go before graduation, nostalgia about their time in high school was starting to creep in just a little bit.

For Moholland, who moved into the district this year, her senior year passed in a rush. While she was done with her classes, she was still coming to the high school every day to work with the Jobs for Maine Graduates program.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said.

Hannah Moholland gets a hug in the reception line after Richmond High School graduation Saturday outside the school in Richmond. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

For Stewart, though, it struck early.

“I’ve been excited for what’s next, but I’m also, like: I’m going to miss this a lot.”

The graduation ceremony gave the class — many of whom started school together 12 years ago — the chance to remember events from their shared experiences in speeches delivered by Valedictorian Ashley Brown, Salutatorian Alex Dershem and exchange student Maria Wockenfuss. Class members also had a few minutes to thank and show their appreciation for their parents and family members.

Even before they moved the tassels on their caps from one side to the other, both Moholland and Stewart already knew the next phase of their education will be harder. Moholland is enrolling in honors level classes, and she’s a little scared about that. Stewart’s academic pursuits will be augmented by the Mass Maritime’s regimented academy structure — he’s got two weeks of boot camp waiting for him.

“It’s going to be a lot harder,” he said, “but I am excited.”

But that’s not for a while. First, there will be Project Graduation. And then Moholland and friend have a plan to work in concessions at local fairs. Stewart said he plans to play baseball, hang out with friends and work at Popp’s Farm in Dresden, where he picks and sells berries.

In four years, the students who are starting high school in the fall will be standing where they are now. Both Stewart and Moholland had some advice for them.

“Work hard to achieve bigger things,” Moholland said. “Get out of your comfort zone and find classes that are hard for you, and make sure you can do those.”

“Work hard, dream big, I guess,” Stewart said. “Just enjoy it because it goes really fast.”


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