Seniors walk toward the bleachers Sunday at the start of Hall-Dale High School graduation ceremony at the Melville H. Simmons Complex at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

FARMINGDALE — As twins, Dorothy and Bethany Ives said they have done everything together, including Sunday, when they graduated together.

French, National Honor Society, soccer and dance were a few of the activities they did together at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale, but as Dorothy Ives took the stage for her valedictorian speech, it marked their last school event together before they head their separate ways — Dorothy to the University of Maine to study civil and environmental engineering, and Bethany to Maine Maritime Academy to study marine transplant operations and play soccer.

Dorothy’s focus in her speech — on adapting to change — was fitting as she, her sister and their classmates move on to new experiences after the class of 2023 dealt with and overcame obstacles, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Living with change requires entrepreneurs, engineers, contractors, mental and physical health experts, farmers, advocates, teachers, local service workers, national service members and many other careers,” Dorothy Ives said. “Some of the jobs we take in the future might not be invented yet. What matters is each role is important and each person has the ability to choose what sort of impact they want to make.”

Seniors line up Sunday before marching across the soccer pitch to begin the graduation ceremony at the Melville H. Simmons Complex at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The students walked into the Melvin H Simmons Complex at Hall-Dale High School in black robes while holding white and red roses as “Pomp and Circumstance” played. They were led by Principal Mark Tinkham and faculty members, also in academic robes. Students sat on the sports field’s bleachers on the warm, sunny afternoon.

Tinkham welcomed guests after student Connor Perry, who has enlisted in the Marine Corps, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Tinkham compared the students’ high school journeys to a book, with everyone having his or her own story that can look like “Peter Pan,” “The Little Engine That Could” or “The Princess Bride,” which Tinkham said is his favorite book he has never read. Like his having never read “The Princess Bride,” he said, everyone has a story worth reading or getting to know.

Art teacher Jen Paisley, left, takes a selfie Sunday with sisters Dorothy and Bethany Ives before the graduation ceremony at the Melville H. Simmons Complex at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

He encouraged the students to get to know many people and to “not judge a book by its cover.”

“Remember to read that book from cover to cover,” he said. “All people will leave the 100-acre woods, like Christopher Robin.”

The outdoor ceremony included five speeches and recognition of academic excellence. Along with the 56 graduates who received their diploma, five exchange students were awarded a certificate.

Seniors stand on the bleachers Sunday at the start of the graduation ceremony at the Melville H. Simmons Complex at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In salutatorian Rita Benoit’s speech, she focused on growing up.

Benoit spoke of how politics, style and the world have changed as she and her classmates were students, and how school, friends and teachers helped them through all of it. Now, she said, the new graduates are set to “start their adventures.”

“We didn’t realize how fast we would grow up,” Benoit said. “Those 13 years flew by, and years turned into months, months into weeks and weeks into days.”

Dorothy Ives left her classmates with parting words from “The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

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