SIDNEY — Dawud Bloomstein took his seat at a grand piano staged at the Bowl in the Pines Amphitheater and delivered.

Bound for Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Bloomstein of Freedom, performed a flawless rendition of the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathétique” during his Maine Arts Academy’s 2021 graduation Friday evening on the campus of Snow Pond Center for the Arts.

“(This year) was weird to say the least with COVID-19 and everything,” Bloomstein said, “but it was a real growing experience with my piano playing.”

Maine Arts Academy graduated 65 seniors during an afternoon graduation set in a picturesque stage surrounded by woods. Maine Arts Academy, one of the state’s 10 free, public carter schools opened five years ago. The school has 250 students that hail from nearly 80 Maine towns. Maine’s independently operated public charter schools are free and open to any students, although some schools use a lottery system if there is more interest than spots available.

Heather King, the academy’s head of school, expected to hold another drive-thru graduation. Just a few weeks ago, plans changed. Masking and distancing mandates were lifted, greenlighting the already pandemic-friendly outdoor ceremony. From the pandemic’s outset, the school tapped into its creative juices to make the most of the situation.


“These kids have been troopers putting one foot in front of the other throughout the pandemic,” King said.

Nicholas Rhodes proudly wears the honor of being the student with the longest commute to the academy. The Enfield resident transferred to Maine Arts Academy last year from Penobscot Valley High School, trading a quick jaunt for a nearly two-hour commute each way. Rhodes, who plans to attend the University of Southern Maine to study music competition, said the long drives were “so worth it.”

“The music education itself, the teachers are so great here,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes began playing guitar in eighth grade. An avid gamer, he hopes to write music for video games for a career.

“I want to create the feeling, so people remember these melodies for years,” he said.

Valedictorian Dorothy Anne Giroux-Pare spoke about working with other talented students on collaborative arts projects and finding time to explores all interests. Giroux-Pare performed in 15 choreography projects, 13 dance numbers, five plays, four scenes for acting class, three show choir numbers, and wrote two plays and directed another at Maine Arts Academy.


“If you take one piece of advice away from my speech today, let it be this,” Giroux-Pare said. “If you love something and are passionate about pursuing it, just know that nothing can stand in your way.”

Salutatorian Evelyn Mercier touched on three truths found during high school: direction is more important than speed, speak your mind even if it’s not the popular opinion and to follow one’s passions.

“To be able to express myself through art, and especially through theater is something that I will forever cherish,” Mercier said. “I am far more confident, far more proud, and far louder, and for that, I thank this school, and I thank all of the people who have held my hand through it all.”

Bloomstein, who finished in the top 10 of his class, utilized the time at home during the pandemic to better his relationship with the piano and the music he played. Bloomstein looks forward to Berklee, where he’ll learn among the world’s best.

“I hope that it’ll be a little more normal,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to the experience of going to a world-class music school.”

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