AUGUSTA — On theme with the pandemic, which the Maranacook Community High School graduates of 2022 had to endure since their sophomore year, valedictorian Anna Erb’s speech highlighted that in life it is impossible to expect the unexpected.

Erb gave her speech at the end of the ceremony, before the 98 graduates received diplomas and walked across the Augusta Civic Center stage Tuesday evening.

It was hard to ignore the themes of the pandemic, which the class of 2022 has been dealing with for most of their high school careers. At Maranacook Community High School, the graduates had a normal freshman year, but had remote learning up until their senior year, when they came back to the classroom wearing masks.

“We are never able to anticipate terrible situations in life, but the beauty is not knowing what the future will hold,” Erb said, fighting back tears. “There are always new beginnings around the corner.”

Erb said in her speech she and her classmates now had to accomplish the high school goals they set for themselves in middle school from their bedrooms, in a situation they could have never expected. She said sometimes, it was alright learning from home on Zoom, then, she joked, teachers would ask students to turn their camera on.

But, she said, the surprises were what made the high school experience and will prepare her, and her classmates, for their lives beyond Maranacook.


“There are the surprises we live for, the great parts of life that make the terrible challenges worth overcoming,” Erb said in her speech, which received a standing ovation. “While these parts might be incredibly intimidating, it should make life incredibly exciting. We always have opportunities to set new goals, then learn from the real world and have the opportunity to fail miserably.

“That’s the beautiful thing about life, it’s not always beautiful and sometimes, it takes a second,” she said.

Most students, like Erb, were excited to be done with high school and “start their new chapter,” as graduate Evelin Dearborn put it before the ceremony as the students waited to line up. Dearborn’s pink hair peeked out under her black cap and gown as she talked about her future plans and what she reflected on in her high school experience.

A Maranacook Community High School senior and a teacher hug Tuesday during graduation at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“It’s a sad day, but it’s an exciting day,” she said. “I’m incredibly excited to graduate. It’s the start of something new and a new chapter,” she said. “We are a really close class and all got along so well.”

It was clear how close the class was in the way they cheered for each other and expressed their gratitude to their teachers as they said their final goodbye to Maranacook Community High School.

At Maranacook, students are assigned an advisor their freshman year, who then, at the graduation ceremony, walks out with the students to “Pomp and Circumstance” and announces their name at the podium. Students and advisors sit together, too.


Brant Remington, director of student services, ran the ceremony, filling in for interim Principal Michael Harris who stepped down from his position a couple of weeks ago for health reasons. Harris took on the role of interim principal after Dwayne Conway, the former principal, resigned in January.

The chamber choir sang, and halfway through the ceremony, the graduates found their parents or loved ones in the crowd and gave them a yellow flower for supporting them through high school.

As for their class speaker, the graduates chose history teacher Shane Gower, who gave a speech to the students on what it means to be a human from both his personal experience and his life in academia.

“When I started working here in 1998, I was naive to what the most important learning outcome is, and if you asked me what was most important, I would have said the Civil Rights Era, the Constitution or Abe Lincoln,” he said, adding that now, it would be learning what it means to be a human.

Maranacook Community High School is part of Regional School Unit 38 and includes the towns of Manchester, Wayne, Mount Vernon and Readfield. It also has some students from Fayette, who attend the district for high school only.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the valedictorian’s name is Anna Erb and that the interim principal who stepped down was Michael Harris. 

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