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Central Aroostook High students head into the world

MARS HILL, Maine — The Central Aroostook High School Class of 2018 joined the world of high school graduates June 8 with messages of inspiration from their mentors and peers and a remembrance of a classmate whose life was cut short.

Central Aroostook High School graduated 29 students in the Class of 2018 who together earned more than $67,000 in scholarship awards for their post-secondary educations. Those plans include 13 graduates attending the University of Maine Presque Isle, seven attending Northern Maine Community College, and one student, Raymond Tarbox, enlisting in the Army.

The graduation ceremony featured a slideshow with photos of the graduates as babies and as young adults, a musical performance by graduate Chloe Wheeler, and speeches by graduates and school leaders.

High school principal Kay York told the graduates that they lived up to the high school’s motto for the 2017-2018 school year: Grit.

Lillie Mahan was the Class Marshall as the Central Aroostook High School Class of 2018 marched in for their graduation ceremony. Twenty-nine students received their diploma and switched their tassels on Friday night, June 8.
(Courtesy of Tomi Henderson)

“You are here because you have grit,” York said. And with grit, she added, the graduates have shown they have “greatness of spirit.”

Maine School Administrative District 42 Superintendent Elaine Boulier offered the graduates some advice on life going forward.

“Work hard, be kind and stay humble. Being humble gives you time to think of other people and that results in happiness, forgiveness and compassion,” Boulier said.

“Be kind and be thankful,” she continued. “While it may seem easy to be bitter and angry, it takes strength to be thankful and kind. One kind word can change someone’s entire day.”

Boulier also urged the graduates to “laugh as often as you can” as part of adapting to life challenges.

“There will be much joy for each of you and there will also be difficult roads. Even during the most trying times, remember to smile and laugh. Falling down is a part of life and getting up builds character.”

Class valedictorian Isabelle Wright, who will attend Colby College to study biology and pre-medicine, offered a speech with recommendations on “Wright ways” to live as the class “figures out who we are meant to become,” much like all generations of young adults.

“Our generation has been labeled generation Z, a generation known for eating tide pods and being addicted to our cell phones. Yet, we are more than that. We are a class that strives for success and will achieve anything we dream.”

Wright recounted some of her best experiences through high school.

“It’s OK to fail. The most important lesson I have learned from my time at Central Aroostook High School is that it is OK to fail as long as you do your best.”

For instance, Wright said that she quit playing soccer after two years and picked up golf, despite little experience with the sport most often played by older men. “Turns out, I’m pretty good at golf,” she said.

This year, she made it to the state golf championships and even beat fellow graduate and ace golfer Shane Stackpole.

“In life we’re going to fail, but that means you’ve tried. Take the failures and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to try to new things.”

Wright said she also had an excellent extra-curricular experience participating in clubs such as Future Farmers of America and getting to see new places as a result.

“When you get the chance to travel go,” she said, explaining that her mom urged her to participate in high school clubs and programs.

“I definitely took her advice. I travelled to Massachusetts, New York, Kentucky, Indiana, Costa Rica and Ecuador. In total, I missed 111 out of 720 days of school. That is 15 percent of my high school education that I wasn’t in the classroom. The lessons I learned while travelling are just as important.”

Wright also reminded her fellow graduates that “life is precious,” as she remembered their late classmate Megan Bradstreet, who died in 2005 at the age of 5 when she was riding a bicycle and a car struck her near her home in Bridgewater.

“Tonight, I can’t help but think of our friend who would have graduated with us tonight. Megan was greatly loved by everyone around her and she loved everyone. Because of this love, her memory will never be forgotten. Class of 2018, we will always have someone watching us as we go our separate ways and live life to the fullest.”

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