In the sixth grade, Hannah Woodford knew she wanted to go to Georgetown University.

And now she’s going.

Woodford graduated from Maranacook High School along with 89 other students Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of about 300 family and friends in the Maranacook gymnasium.

The speeches, from students and administrators, drew a picture of the time that the class of 2019 spent at high school.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Principal Dwayne Conway talked about the community of students at Maranacook and some of the things they did during their time at high school, including fundraising for a resident whose house burned down, another student jump-starting someone’s car, being invited to judge a speech and debate tournament and taking a trip with students to Spain.

“They were incredible ambassadors for our school,” Conway said.

Kristen Levesque, a counselor for Maranacook, said this class began their journey in high school when she started as a school administrator.

“As you leave Maranacook, and set out on your new paths, I hope you will keep those positive attributes that I’ve seen in you at the forefront of your character,” Levesque said.

Luke Bartol, Maranacook’s salutatorian, said he struggled to write his speech, because at 17 years old, he didn’t have any insights or life-changing advice.

“No matter how many classes you took at high school, how many job trainings you got, how many things you Google, you are never going to know it all,” Bartol said.

But for everything that he doesn’t know, he said, there is someone who does.

“Every single person out there has some unique skill or knowledge,” Bartol said.

Bartol said putting aside preconceived notions to truly listen is important.

Maranacook Community High School seniors Katie King, left, and Jilleon Farrell count their cords Sunday before marching into graduation ceremonies in Readfield. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Grace Despres, Maranacook’s valedictorian, focused on how much the students had accomplished in high school and where that will take them.

“We have classmates attending college all over the country, classmates with apprenticeships going to work or joining the military,” Despres said.

There are also students who have set school records and won championship titles, Despres said. There are students who helped a team win the school’s first titles, she said.

Despres thanked parents, family members and friends who “cheered us on in the good times and supported us in the bad times.”

Woodford said when she received her acceptance letter from Georgetown, on April 1 no less, she and her father cried for about 30 minutes because she didn’t think she would get in.

Woodford, who started at Maranacook in seventh grade, said she plans to study government and philosophy at Georgetown. The year before, she wrote an essay about how she wanted to attend Georgetown and go to law school.

“I’m halfway there,” she said.

When she graduates from Georgetown, she’ll be the first in her family to obtain a four-year degree, she said. She would like to continue her education by attending graduate school. Her ultimate goal is to become a labor lawyer.

When she started at Maranacook, Woodford discovered something she would spend the next six years doing: speech and debate. Woodford was the captain of her speech and debate team this past year and has competed nationally. Her first national competition brought her to Sacramento, California. Woodford said it can be intimidating to go to these competitions because the students are from different schools and backgrounds.

Woodford did, however, credit her environment for the success she has had.

“It took a community of people to get to where I am,” Woodford, who was also vice president of her class, said.


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