AUGUSTA — More than 150 Messalonskee High School seniors received diplomas Thursday in a ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center in which retiring Principal Paula Callan praised the graduates and said they are well positioned for success in the future.

The commencement was just longer than an hour but still allowed enough time to recognize each senior, according to Assistant Principal Scott Hallett. There were 154 seniors who received diplomas (another three declined to attend), he said.

“We are really going to miss seeing these kids around campus, but we are so happy and excited to see what they’ll accomplish in their adult lives,” he said Friday.

Senior Ellie Marden receives a hug Thursday from her grandaunt Jane Collins before the Messalonskee High School graduation ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Callan will retire after nearly 40 years in education, with the last seven as Messalonskee High principal, Hallett said. She painted a portrait for the audience Thursday of seniors who overcame steep challenges, served as mentors, become problem-solvers, and earned academic or athletic accolades. She spoke of high school as a holistic experience for the seniors and how their time at Messolonskee — the traits that they learned and acquired over four years — helped them mature and will propel them onward to their next adventure, Hallett said.

He said four years of high school began and ended in traditional fashion, but right in the middle was a pandemic that brought profound challenges.

“We all agree that there was a special strength, tenacity and steadfastness they displayed through their high school careers,” Hallett said.

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