NEWPORT — Melissa Walker, 18, spent her senior year at Nokomis Regional High playing sports, participating in clubs and bands, but also coping with her parents splitting up.

“I tried to hide it for a long time,” said Walker. “And I tried not to be that super emotional person (at school).”

With support from her friends, Walker managed to complete the school year and her duties as captain of the various sports teams she played on, including basketball, softball and volleyball.

Her thoughts on graduating were, “Everything is really crazy, how quickly it comes to an end.”

Walker offered some advice to those who might be in a similar situation: “Take every chance that you can and appreciate every moment with the people in your life.”

She plans on attending Eastern Maine Community College to study nursing.


“I have so much respect for their grit,” said Principal Mary Nadeau of the Nokomis Class of 2022 and the obstacles they faced. She said she is proud of them for making it to graduation, because they are the class that was “affected most” by COVID-19.

On Friday evening, 129 students graduated on the football field surrounded by a crowd of at least 600 family members, friends and faculty. Each student was initially given eight tickets with the ability to potentially receive more. Bleachers and folding chairs were arranged by the goal post nearest to the school and a stage made from risers seated the graduates facing the crowd of supporters.

With the potential for rain, Nadeau told the crowd how she occasionally officiates weddings and sometimes it rains, but that is good luck. She informed everyone the graduation ceremony was to continue as planned whether it rained or not and was met with a laugh.

Graduates from Nokomis Regional High prepare for commencement ceremonies Friday in the entryway to the high school in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Other students who graduated shared their thoughts on the experience.

Jimmy Green, 18, said “it’s kinda nerve-racking” to be graduating, because they will be losing the structure and schedule the graduates are accustomed to.

He is optimistic of the future and said, “I think I can handle it pretty well due to my time in high school overcoming other challenges.”


Alexis Morse, 17, agreed with Green that it’s nerve-racking, but she added that it is exciting, too.

“My friends made my high school experience pop,” she said. “But I’m excited for the big, real world.”

“It hasn’t really hit yet,” said one of the two class-voted marshals, 18-year-old Mason Hopkins. “Doesn’t really feel like we should be graduating yet.”

“Very bittersweet,” said Kaitlyn Harris, 18. “These people have been with me for the last 12 years of my life.”

The ceremony started with a welcome by class vice president Casey Crockett. Speeches by class president Zoe Stankevitz and graduate speaker Carter Rice preceded the distributing of diplomas. Nadeau also gave a message to the seniors.

Stankevitz’s speech focused on her struggle to find a field she wanted to pursue post-high school.


“No one’s journey has been easy,” she said. “It’s OK to be lost or feel behind, because eventually the pieces will fall into place.”

“These past few years have been a blessing in disguise,” said Rice as he addressed his peers in a speech about the future. He said his class contained people who plan to attend college, enter the workforce and join the armed forces.

Nadeau informed the crowd that the class had been awarded just over $1 million in scholarships the previous evening at their class night.

She hoped the graduates would “leave knowing you can do it, you can do challenging things.”

“We talk a lot about what it means to be a warrior,” she said. “Uplifting another person is worth it. Class of 2022, you’ve got this, because it’s the Nokomis way.”

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