Graduates of Kents Hill School in Readfield toss their caps into the air Saturday at the close of the school’s 198th commencement ceremony. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

READFIELD — For 49 students from around central Maine and around the world, Saturday marked a day of transition.

The Kents Hill School 2022 graduating class members and their families and friends gathered under the cloudy skies of a late spring day at the Hansen Quadrangle as the school marked its 198th commencement ceremony.

“As both the head of school and a parent today, I know full well that today is a both/and day, a day where we are experiencing both joy and sadness,” Christopher Cheney, head of the private school, said in his welcome comments, acknowledging that graduates will move on to college, the military or a gap year. “Today, I will do my best to focus on the joy.”

Among the awards and recognitions for academic and athletic achievements, four student speakers shared their thoughts, memories of their time at the school and a little advice.

Naeema O’Rourke, a day student from Wayne, said as she and her classmates move forward, she hopes they will continue on with their journey of resilience and not forget the memories they made. 

“Life has already thrown us so many curveballs, but we’ve made it to graduation! When you look back at your time here, look back with a smile on your face and perhaps a laugh because no high school student should have gone through that much turbulence in our four years,” O’Rourke said. 


The Kents Hill graduates are among the students whose time at high school was upended and reshaped by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlotte Precourt, one four student speakers at Kents Hill School’s 198th commencement, urged her fellow graduates to work to be the change they wish to see. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

Charlotte Precourt, a day student from Winthrop, noted that during their time at Kents Hill, she and her classmates have been encouraged to be the most earnest and thoughtful versions of themselves, both in and out of school.

“It’s vital that we carry this lesson with us, remembering to take a stand on what matters most, to speak with conviction and empathy, and work to create the change we wish to see,” Precourt said.

Amita Nanda, a day student from Augusta, offered up some advice in dealing with the pressure to achieve and seek perfection.

“Everyone seems to be striving for perfection nowadays. I know I am definitely a perfectionist,” Nanda said. “But, focusing overly on being perfect isn’t healthy. It is also not healthy to be under so much pressure.”

Instead, Nanda urged her classmates to not succumb to the pressures of society.


“You do what you want to do, and don’t worry about what everyone else thinks of you,” she said. “Take the pressure suffocating you, and transform it into your drive. Take some time to rest when you need to. Think back to times when you have succeeded previously. Focus on what you can change rather than factors that are set in stone.”

Jackson Melendy, a day student from Winthrop and student body president, said their time at Kents Hill will be marked by more than their accomplishments and shared good times; its enduring impact will be in the family relationship that was forged among them.

“It is the family that helps you get through the bad days and the low points of high school that we all have had,” Melendy said. “No matter what, the people on this stage have been here for each other when it mattered, through the good and bad. I think I can say this for the class that we are thankful to be a part of Kents Hill graduating class of 2022 as this is the place that allowed this family to form.”

At the close of the ceremony, Cheney urged the students to not look at the end of their high school career.

“Take a moment and think about how far each of you has come,” he said. “And recognize this is not the end, but just a point in your life journey marking just how far you have come.”

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