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82 bid adieu at Houlton graduation

HOULTON, Maine — It was a time for laughs, cheers and a few tears Thursday for 82 graduating seniors at Houlton Middle-High School.  

For many, it was a time of jubilation, while for others it was a time sadness as the realization that one chapter of their lives was coming to an end.

Class Marshal Kristen Graham led the senior class into the standing-room-only venue of the Millar Civic Center as more than 2,000 relatives and friends gathered for the ceremony. Senior Class President Anessa Wilde welcomed the guests and thanked the teachers and administrators who helped their class along the way.

“Thank you for your dedication, encouragement and firm guidance,” she said. “Thank you for breaking us down, and building us back up again. For our family and friends, thank you for reminding us that life extends beyond the classroom.”

Wilde also expressed thanks to her peers for the laughter and camaraderie throughout the years.

“Thank you for the friendships and collaborations as we sought similar goals and represented our school,” she said. “We leave the physical evidence of our achievements on the school walls and in the trophy cases.”

Salutatorian Carolyn Mooers recalled how the group transitioned to the high school and overcame challenges along the way to become successful in a variety of ways.

“We have seen much success as we have excelled in different ways and proven that we all have the potential for future achievements,” she continued. “Some of us are going to college to fulfill a dream. Some of us will fulfill our dreams in finding meaningful employment, and others by entering into military service. Now, we will all branch off, having benefited from the gifts of our teachers, our school, and fellow classmates.  Success may not come easily, but it will come and it will be worth every ounce of effort.”

Guest speaker Anne Kreyssig, an English teacher at the high school, encouraged the Class of 2018 to cherish the small-town community that students have called home.

“While at times we might feel annoyed with one another for being a bit too close,” she said. “In the end, we are comforted and touched knowing we have many extended families who understand us because we have experienced these years together. I hope you will cling to one another, care for one another and not lose touch.”

In her valedictory speech, Kolleen Bouchard used the time to reflect on how sports and other organized activities have played such a large role in not just her life, but for many of her peers. While her class saw many victories, including two basketball state titles and a soccer championship, there were losses along the way.

“Never forget, though, that a setback is not a loss,” she said. “This concept can be difficult to process as it goes against one’s competitive nature. However, losing is acceptable and actually helps us grow.”

She quoted basketball legend Michael Jordan on how losing impacted his life and how she used that as inspiration.

“Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, said ‘I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.’ Sometimes losses, or setbacks, in life are actually beneficial. For example, I truly believe that if we had not lost that one soccer game last season to Madawaska, at the end of our almost undefeated season, we would not have become state champions. Losing resets focus, and our soccer team needed to realize that we were not untouchable. We learned that we needed to earn our crown; it would not be handed to us. Every failure encourages us to work harder during future challenges.”

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