SKOWHEGAN — Emmah Corson was excited Sunday afternoon, milling about at the Skowhegan Area High School cafeteria with her classmates who were about to march into the gymnasium to graduate.

The four years went by more quickly than she had imagined.

“It seems like yesterday we were freshmen coming in and figuring out where our classrooms were,” said Corson, 18.

The Cornville resident plans to enroll in Husson University this fall to study environmental science and participate in sports, she said. The medals she wore around her neck were testament to her love of sports.

“I do indoor and outdoor track and field, and field hockey,” she said. “I’ll be doing track and field my first year at Husson and next year, I will be doing field hockey.”

Corson said she couldn’t become a law enforcement officer because she has Type 1 diabetes, but she plans to be a wildlife biologist, the next best thing. Skowhegan Area High School prepared her well for her next steps, she said, citing math teacher Chris Wills for helping her overcome difficulty with the subject.


“I’ve had her since my junior year, and she has always been there,” Corson said. “I was struggling with math. She’s so inspirational and loves her job so much. She always puts her students first.”

Across the cafeteria, sitting alone, senior Joshua Rairdon, 18, said he plans to take a year off to get a job and earn money before heading to college. He hopes to find a job cooking, he said, adding that he might study culinary arts when he gets to college.

“The main thing I want to do is build up some finances before I get a loan for my college,” Rairdon said.

Graduate Maddy Thorndike shows her excitement Sunday while receiving her diploma during the commencement program of Skowhegan Area High School at the high school in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

He acknowledged he is a bit terrified to be leaving high school and entering the world of work and responsibility.

“After this, no matter what, you can’t be considered a child,” he said. “This is it. You may not be totally on your own, but there might not be a lot of leeway.”

He cited English teacher Paul Deagle for being a good role model for him and other students.


“He was down-to-earth,” Rairdon said. “He knew what he was talking about. He made it interesting. He was just a good influence.”

Corson and Rairdon were two of 144 seniors graduating Sunday, according to school Principal Bruce Mochamer, who handed out diplomas along with Lynda Quinn, chairperson of the Maine School Administrative District 54 board of directors, and MSAD 54 Superintendent Jonathan Moody.

The school gymnasium was packed with more than 1,500 graduates, family members, friends, and school staff and faculty. It was standing room only, and another 100 or so people watched the ceremonies from a livestream in the school auditorium off the lobby.

Norie Tibbetts, right, assists classmate Adam Savage with his cap and tassel Sunday before the processional at the commencement program of Skowhegan Area High School at the high school in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Class President John Donoghue gave a flag salute and addressed friends, teachers and family members, saying they deserved much credit for his accomplishments so far. He talked of standing up for what one believes is right and effecting change. He recalled how last year, teachers would tell students wearing hats in school to take them off and they would do so, only to put them back on again after walking 5 feet away. Every day, the dance would continue, Donoghue said. Eventually, the school changed the rules and allowed hat-wearing, he said. The students who continued to wear hats were, in a sense, engaging in a social movement on a small scale, according to Donoghue. He said change is not easy and requires persistence, as social movements in the past have shown.

Senior Riley Enright said she grew up along the Kennebec River, which was a center of activities and events and holds such value. She likened her own life to the river, where she learned to “go with the flow.”

The river holds many obstacles, she said, but one must find ways to get around them and if the current moves too quickly, one can always slow down. No matter what, one must continue to move forward, she advised.

“Along your journey, don’t forget the school and community that you have come from and all the obstacles you have conquered.” Enright said.

Senior Elizabeth Turner, accompanied by Carolyn Snowman on piano, sang “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” by Carrie Underwood, and Senior Maya Patten sang “Almost There,” a song written by Randy Newman for the Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.” Both received standing ovations. Senior class steward Ahnalese Higgins gave a reading. Presenters were introduced by seniors Leanna Breard, Paige Gilbert, Maddy Thorndike, Eleanor Tibbets and Richard Snowman. Donoghue and Catherine Kelso, student council co-president, were class marshals.

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