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Katahdin sends off 25 grads prepared ‘to make an impact’

STACYVILLE, Maine — The motto for Katahdin’s senior class loomed large atop the stage Saturday for the 26 graduates of the Class of 2018 to see as they entered the Loren H. Ritchie gymnasium. 

The motto of “Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be,” was a theme that resonated throughout the Saturday morning ceremony.

Salutatorian Jordyn Ritchie paid tribute to her grandfather, to whom the gym is dedicated. He served as high school principal for 18 years before retiring in 1988.

Rig Otero presents a rose to a loved one during Saturday’s graduation ceremony at Katahdin High School. (Joseph Cyr)

“To some, he may be just a name on the wall behind me, but to the majority, Loren Ritchie left a mark on their hearts and lives that will never be tarnished,” she said. “My grandfather has held to the highest respect, the value of being a true leader. I share this with you today, for it is the ability to  lead that the world so desperately needs.”

Ritchie added that it was her grandfather’s goal to see each graduate be prepared and determined to make an impact in the world.

“Although times have changed, it is our responsibility as the newest generation of young adults to sculpt the world into what we want it to be,” she said. “As you enter the workforce or go to college to pursue your career goals, I hope you understand the importance of being able to stick to your guns and do the right thing, rather than the easy thing.”

Valedictorian Natalie Rickards informed her fellow grads that failure was almost a certainty in life, but how they deal with it will determine future successes. She used the analogy of trying out for the softball team, and never being able to hit the ball, but not letting that preclude her from continuing to try.

“Just because I am valedictorian, does not make me a picture perfect high school student,” she said. “I failed my license test, backed into my friend’s car and lost multiple sporting events. We never brought home a gold ball. We have fought with each other. We have been divided, but that’s all OK. In life, the sun fades and the rain falls. Failure is inevitable, but we have learned the skills to be able to pick ourselves up when the sun comes out again.”

Class Marshals Hannah Drew, left, and Brian Nason lead the graduates in to Katahdin High School’s gymnasium Saturday morning. (Joseph Cyr)

Class president Hannah Drew, in her address, urged her peers to not wish their lives away and to explore as often as possible.

“Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your own little bubble,” she said. “Explore the world and be successful in whatever you may decide to do.

Principal Marie Robinson encouraged the graduates to “keep things in perspective” as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

“Some may see graduation as an ending, but we can also look at it as a beginning,” she said. “A beginning of following your dreams and making the world a better place. It is a proud moment for all.”

Kristen Hogan, a 1992 graduate of KHS, served as the keynote speaker, continuing the recent trend of classes bringing alums who have gone on to big things back to the school to speak. Hogan earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from Boston College and worked for three years in the corporate offices of Staples, Inc. For the past 17 years, she has worked for UNFI, the leading natural, organic specialty food distributor in the United States, and is currently the president of that company.

“I am proud to stand up in front of you today a KHS graduate,” Hogan said. “I grew up in Patten and spent almost every summer working for my dad at Richardson’s Hardware. As a student at Katahdin, I pushed myself to be a student athlete. I was always an advocate for those around me who wanted to be better. That has continued to serve me well today.”

Hogan said many of the skills that have served her well in life were the ones she learned in the halls of Katahdin High School. She encouraged the class to master three things in life — passion, integrity and accountability.

“Most of the people from this community already have these, and so do you,” she said. “It is what you choose to do with them that will truly set you apart.”

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