FARMINGDALE — Before they took their final lap Sunday at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale, the school’s 56 graduates spent part of a hot Sunday morning being what they have always been: kids and classmates.

Gathered for their outdoor graduation ceremony at the Melville H. Simmons Complex, behind the high school, members of the class of 2021 revisited favorite moments of time spent over the past 12 years, preparing for the moment they would leave it all behind and head toward unwritten futures.

Hall-Dale High School senior James Joya greets friends and family Sunday during commencement at the Farmingdale school. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In his salutatorian address, Hunter Lizzotte recognized the potential he sees in all of his classmates, to be biochemists, nurses, carpenters, architects and psychologists.

“I see a bright future in every single one of you,” Lizzotte said. “But while it’s one thing to have unlimited potential, it’s another thing entirely to utilize that potential.”

Part of that, he said, is being able to push out of a comfort zone, as he was doing by delivering the speech. He prefaced his advice by admitting he was terrified to be giving his first speech in front of an audience.

“It was the fact that this opportunity would push me way out of my comfort zone that made me want to do it,” he said. “It was my fear of failing miserably that made me want to do it. Because that’s exactly what utilizing your unlimited potential is all about. It’s about trying difficult and uncomfortable things, and it’s about perseverance through failure.”


Lizzotte challenged his classmates to examine their potential and ask what they can do to use it.

“Push yourself, fail miserably, but never give up,” he said. “Don’t listen to what people say. Don’t be afraid to break from the norm. And don’t b afraid to seek discomfort.”

Ian Stebbins, in his valedictorian address, shared snapshots of the high points of students’ time together, including the class prank, which filled a stairwell and elevator with balloons and left notes from the class of 2021 all over the school.

Hall-Dale High School faculty pound water during Sunday commencement at the Farmingdale school. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

But he also gave his friends and other classmates advice to carry with them, advice he planned to honor himself.

“It may seem cliché,” he said, “but time flies, so I give you this: Live in the moment, enjoy the now. Every second of your life is unique, never to be repeated or revisited again. Our years are in fact limited, and I will not be wasting my time fretting on the past or being anxious about the future.

“Please, cherish the present and value each moment you have been granted.”

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