WINSLOW — The air was thick with anticipation Wednesday evening as 98 Winslow High School seniors waited in the wings at the Colby College athletics center, preparing to receive their diplomas and march into the next chapter of their lives.

Some reminisced about the community they would leave behind after high school.

“I’ll miss how personable the teachers are,” said Stella Nutting, 17, who is headed to Kennebec Valley Community College this fall to study nursing.

Others said they were excited for a fresh start, including Nevaeh Duplessie, who will be joining the U.S. Army.

“I just want to start new,” said Duplessie, 17.

Damian Irish, 18, seemed to embrace both perspectives. He said he will miss his teachers, particularly Dave Boardman, who teaches at the Mid-Maine Technical Center and sparked Irish’s interest in mass media and communications. Irish said he is excited to pursue videography and short filmmaking at Southern Maine Community College.


“I feel great,” he said.

Soon enough, the Winslow Junior High and High School bands struck up a rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” and the graduates were off. With family members, friends and faculty members cheering them on, the seniors streamed into the arena in neat lines, marching in lockstep to reach their seats and receive diplomas.

Winslow High School Principal Chad Bell addresses the class of 2023 on Wednesday during the school’s 121st commencement exercises, at the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center at Colby College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Winslow High School Principal Chad Bell delivered an opening address, sharing that this year’s graduation was especially poignant for him because he was speaking both as the principal and a parent of a graduate.

“We have watched you when you were that carefree little kid dressed in mismatched clothes. We helped usher you through those awkward middle school years. We have been along for the ride, guiding you,” Bell said. “Hopefully, you can draw upon the many little lessons that we taught you to overcome whatever stands in your way.”

Bell advised this year’s graduates to remain kind, humble and positive as they forge their paths, and assured them they would be able to persevere through anything.

“No matter how hard the trail of life can be, nothing can be as bad as March 2020 to March 2022,” he said, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education.


Class President Dominique Daigneault delivered a speech praising his classmates for loving one another through their four years of high school.

“I’ve seen people at each other’s throats one day be able to make up the next. I’ve seen people that can’t stand each other be able to talk and laugh in class. I’ve seen people from vastly, vastly different social groups with vastly, vastly different personalities be able to talk like they’ve been doing that for years,” Daigneault said. “Don’t let the bad times — the bad people — make you forget about that love. The world’s already cold enough. We don’t need to make it colder.”

Brenda Beckwith, a physical education teacher at Winslow High School and member of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame, delivered the commencement address.

Winslow High School graduates, Isabella Irish, right, shares a moment Wednesday with Damian Irish before the start of the 121st commencement exercises at the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center at Colby College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Beckwith paid tribute to her colleagues who supported the students through their schooling, and encouraged the graduates to be ambitious.

“Travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, fall in love. Make and lose fortunes. Windsurf. Take a trip to Mars. Be a foodie. Work at SpaceX. Skinny dip,” Beckwith said, drawing laughter from the graduates. “Regret those things you did, rather than the things you didn’t do.”

She also encouraged the graduates to take stock of what they already have: A community in their corner, and friends and family who love them.

“You have a full reserve of humor, experience, a good and peaceful heart and a ton of memories,” Beckwith said. “You have what you need.”

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