Class marshal Madyson Nichols marks time Sunday afternoon, June 11, as seniors from Spruce Mountain High School in Jay make their way to seats on Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. The graduation ceremony was held outside after a week of rainy weather. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

LIVERMORE FALLS — Family, friends, school staff and officials cheered as the Class of 2023 marched to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance performed by the Spruce Mountain High School band Sunday afternoon, June 11, at Griffin Field.

Principal TJ Plourde welcomed students and guests, recognized officials who would be taking part and thanked the office and custodial staff for their efforts in preparing for the graduation.

“To our graduates, this is a time to celebrate and recognize your hard work and dedication over the 12 years of public education,” Plourde noted.

He asked the seniors to think about their first day in kindergarten, to try to remember their first bus ride. “Were you nervous,” Plourde asked. “Think about the first day of middle school. Did you feel like a big kid, did you make new friends?

“The first day of high school, did you ever feel like it would go past this quick?”

Plourde remembered the seniors as freshman, ready to have new adventures and take some risks.


“Your next chapter starts today,” he told the graduates. “Be passionate with your aspirations, be compassionate with your family and friends, your coworkers and your leaders. Find humor in all things and do it in style.”

Plourde said the senior class created fond memories for him and the staff. “We are so proud of you,” he added.

Valedictorian Emma Towers and her sibling brother and salutatorian, Lucas Towers then went to the podium together to share insights with their classmates. Emma thanked her parents and everyone in the school district who “pushed us to great lengths in order to get here. You have believed in us since the minute we walked through the scary high school doors as incoming freshmen. But everyone knows who really got us to this point. To our office ladies, who officially unofficially run the show, Ms. Boivin and Mrs. Merrill, thank you.

“It is an honor that I get to stand before you all today as the Class of 2023 valedictorian next to my triplet brother and best friend Lucas, the Class of 2023 salutatorian. And just for the record, this might have been one of the first times we chose each other as partners for an assignment.”

Lucas said he and Emma usually do a lot of things together, so it only seemed right to give one speech, together. “Although we have our similarities, Emma and I also have our obvious differences, such as the fact that you should be able to tell us apart,” he noted. “This speaks to the rest of the class as well. From Garrett Hunt being 9.5 pounds at birth, to Emma being 1.14, we are all different. But despite our differences in styles, personalities, and interests we have always been able to come together and represent the Spruce Mountain class of 2023.”

Spruce Mountain High School senior Lily Bailey, center, stands to receive her diploma from Principal TJ Plourde Sunday afternoon, June 11, at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Also seen is education technician Kathy Boivin. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

This is the last class that came from different elementary schools, Lucas noted. Fast forward through middle school and now nobody cares whether you belong to Jay or Livermore, he said.


It is important to never forget special moments shared and the relationships made throughout the years, Emma stated.

Laugh at the funny memories and learn from the hard ones, Lucas noted. “Remember the people who had an impact on you, and made you a better person,” he added.

“Remember to let things happen,” Emma said. “Celebrate your successes and accomplishments, and build off your failures and doubts. Success doesn’t come without failure, and sometimes failing is what we need to keep us grounded.”

Plourde with assistance from other staff members and Regional School Unit 73 board member Lenia Coates then presented diplomas to the seniors. Superintendent Scott Albert and board chair Robert Staples congratulated each senior.

Class President Daniel Wilson next spoke of a hook always coming naturally to him while writing introductions. Those for his school papers were always easy and he was always excited to be introduced to new things.

Class marshal Madyson Nichols leads part of the Spruce Mountain High School Class of 2023 in turning their tassels Sunday afternoon, June 11, in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“See, my problem has always been conclusions,” he stated. “I’ve never liked the feeling of endings, of never being able to do or see anything or anyone ever again, and that’s what I think of when I think of conclusions.”


Commencement might be a conclusion to something someone loved or maybe hated, but it is also an introduction, a new beginning, Wilson noted. What better time is there for an introduction than at a conclusion, he asked.

“Your high school career may be over, but life is far from it,” Wilson said. “We are more adults than we were yesterday. This is truly a moment of great transition for all of us. We have spent the last four years preparing for today, preparing for a changing time and I couldn’t be more proud of the people that my peers and I have become.

“When this class rose to high school, we didn’t expect to spend half of it at home. COVID-19 allowed all of my classmates and I to understand and experience new possibilities of who we could become if the circumstances allowed for it, which they did.”

Wilson said a number of factors kept him out of the top ten in his class. “Not everyone chooses to excel academically in a changing time, but I hope my peers are listening when I say this,” he noted. “There are countless lessons to learn about yourself from your experiences in high school. Something I’ve learned and seen in countless ways in my experience with Envirothon is that when faced with a challenge a population of species has three options: migrate, adapt or die. They can move away, change their behavior or simply perish. Thankfully, it is usually in our human nature to choose one of the first two options.”

Immediate family members suffered past traumas manifesting as mental illness to which Wilson was desensitized to. “Someone being hospitalized or calling the crisis hotline had become just another day of the week,” he noted. Some recent events brought Wilson so much stress that he was physically ill more than once every day for two weeks.

“Eventually, my brain gave me only one option: to adapt, and with time I was able to,” Wilson stated. “I learned a lot from the experience. Sometimes it is hard to understand what someone else goes through unless you’ve gone through it yourself. Every struggle is a personal challenge that you will have to learn how to adapt to.


“There is so much to learn about the world. Even if you are not pursuing future education, you will be forced to learn to adapt to changes. “It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.”

Wilson then quoted Mufasa from the Lion King when he told Simba, “Remember who you are.” “While I know it is important to be confident in yourself, it is also vital to be resilient and willing to accept change, as well as in some cases, being the change. There will be countless pivotal moments in each one of our lives, and I am grateful that I’m going through this one with all of you.

“I thank you all for the memories, good or bad. They have all begun to shape who we are now, and what we will each become. I wish the best of luck to the Class of 2023 in all our future endeavors.”

Wilson and class marshals Madyson Nichols and Peyton Martin then led the class in the turning of their tassels.

After Plourde introduced the newest Spruce Mountain High School alumni, the graduates recessed to “Good Old Days” by Macklemore & Kesha, then gathered with family members waiting to congratulate them.

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