SKOWHEGAN — The future isn’t what it used to be.

That was part of the message delivered Sunday by Senior Class Steward Maggie Pono as the class of 2019 of Skowhegan Area High School said farewell to the past and hello to the future during graduation ceremonies.

“We are unbound,” Pono said. “Let’s live like we meant it; let’s burn like we mean it.”

The afternoon opened with a medley of tunes by the school’s concert band, lead by music director Jen Fortin. Faculty and district administrators entered the high school gymnasium first, followed by the 160 or so graduating seniors — girls dressed in white caps and gowns, boys in black, all with a single orange carnation.

They marched to the musical strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” played live by the concert band.

Graduating senior R. Taylor Kruse then reprised his rendition of “The Impossible Dream” — to reach the unreachable star — from the musical “Man of La Mancha,” which was performed this past winter.

In her welcome to fellow graduates, friends and families attending commencement exercises, Isabella Herrick said they finally had made it to this long-awaited day.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start,” she said, quoting Maine author Stephen King. “At his moment, the only thing we have left to do is to embrace the scary and start our lives — we’ve waited long enough. We have our whole future in front of us right now.”

Herrick urged her classmates to take the time to congratulate themselves for all the hard work they put in to get to this day, to get to the future. She thanked the teachers and administrators who have dedicated their lives to educating the youth of the Skowhegan area and thanked parents, friends and families for sticking by them during the four years of high school that “went by so fast.”

Herrick’s words were followed by a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” performed by Shawn Hewett.

In his farewell to the class of 2019, Kruse told classmates to be passionate about their dreams.

He gave a twist on The Seven Deadly Sins, telling classmates to reconsider what it means to be good. He turned the tables on pride, envy, anger and greed.

On pride, Kruse said graduates all should be incredibly proud of their accomplishments.

“Being prideful of our achievements shouldn’t be frowned upon,” he said. “Your hard work deserves recognition. Pride gives us the confidence to take risks in life and the ability to advocate for ourselves. It can give us the motivation to succeed, and it allows us to get validation from ourselves rather than from others.”

Anger and envy are hard to advocate for, Kruse said. They can make people mean, rude and hateful — but not always.

“It is often from these emotions that we find what we need to improve,” he said. “Anger and disappointment are many times hard to cope with, but with the right attitude and mindset, these can make us stronger, more determined and more passionate than ever before. Being envious can be a useful tool, if anything else, to determine what your true priorities in life are.”

As for gluttony, Kruse said discovering answers for yourself does have its rewards, but with modern resources, people have the opportunity to work smarter, not harder.

“So be gluttonous,” he said. “Be curious individuals who don’t start on square one but rather stand on the shoulders of giants.”

And finally, greed and sloth, Kruse said: “We should all be greedy for knowledge, truth and self-betterment,” quoting John R. Dallas Jr.

“If necessity is the mother of invention, then greed is the father. The desire to acquire knowledge, the hunger for truth and the yearning for more should be commended.”

“Perhaps one has greed for wealth. But maybe someone is just greedy for a smile. A society without greed is an ignorant one. So be greedy. Don’t be timid to want more in life. Never settle.”

He said some of the best memories from high school were made when they were slothful — hanging out with friends, taking vacations, missing school for final assemblies, games and activities, all of which take time away from academic advancement.

There are friends, family and a life, he said.

“So be slothful. Don’t work yourself to death. Enjoying life to its fullest is never bad.”

And finally, Kruse changed sinful lust to love.

“We have much to love here at Skowhegan — love for each other, love for our faculty and love for our school.”

Kruse’s speech was followed by a performance by Dayle Pooler of “Rivers and Roads” by band The Head and The Heart before the presentation of diplomas.


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