AUGUSTA — Somewhere in the sea of students getting ready to step-pause-step to the time honored strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” Anna Stolt was getting ready, too.

The 17-year-old senior from Augusta was putting on her cap and gown, but she was getting ready for the rest of her life, too.

Cony High School senior Anna Stolt gets some help putting on her mortar board Sunday before marching into graduation ceremonies in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

“It’s kind of weird,” Stolt said last week after one of Cony High School’s marching practice sessions at the Augusta Civic Center. “I feel like since I was a freshman that I was waiting for this moment. Now that it’s here, it’s like this is the last time I will see these people, and this is the last time I will go through these doors.”

Stolt, one of two class marshals, was among the 160 students from Cony High on Sunday to bid farewell to their high school and many of their friends as they split off in different directions over the coming months.

Stolt is heading to The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to study political science. After that will come law school.

“I’m very passionate about civil rights and social justice, and this is the best way for me to effect change,” she said.

It’s going to be expensive, Stolt said, but she’ll apply for scholarships, and then she’ll apply for more scholarships.

For her, high school was more than school. Although it was hard, it gave her the chance to figure out how to be her own person and not have to worry about what other people think or say.

“I went to Seeds of Peace, which is a summer camp about leadership and social justice,” Stolt said. “When I went there, going into my sophomore year, I realized I can be myself and people are going to like me. And after that, I grew into who I am.”

Her classmates have taken their own paths to knowing themselves and their friends, and that was reflected in the speeches they gave.

Cony High School senior Nathan Berry greets his friend, Laura Molesworth, before marching into graduation ceremonies Sunday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Zinaida Gregor, who gave the valedictory address, said that as the students look back they can recall the experiences that shaped their philosophy of life.

“Recognizing the imminent danger of pollution on our planet and understanding that it is only through individual and collective action that a remedy can be found, some of us have already committed to recycling and reducing litter,” Gregor said. “What does this mean? The answer may lie in a South African term called ‘ubuntu.’ Archbishop Desmond Tutu defined it as ‘the fact that you cannot exist as a human being in isolation.’ It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself. This philosophy states that ‘I am because of you.’”

Gregor said everyone’s well-being is bound to that of others, and actions affect our neighbors.

“That means we have the power to deter others from making harmful choices and yet inspire them to join the crusade,” Gregor said.

While the days leading up to Sunday’s graduation ceremony and the ceremony itself reflected the shared memories of the graduates and the sharing of well wishes and thanks, Stolt took a moment to look ahead to the students who will make their way to Cony High School in the fall.

“Be yourself,” she said. “Don’t spend your time pleasing other people. Try new things. Make every moment count. Join that sports team. Do Chizzle Wizzle (the longest running high school variety show in the United States). Join the Spanish Club. Do all theses things. Because you’re going to look back and say that went really fast. Get involved and make this time worth it, because this is the foundation for the rest of your life.”


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