STACYVILLE, Maine — For the 31 seniors gathered inside Katahdin High School’s gymnasium Saturday morning, it was a time for celebration and reflection as they waited patiently to receive their diplomas.
Katahdin Principal Marie Robinson offered her young charges a few pieces of advice as they embark on the next chapters of their lives.
“My hope is that as you go out into the world, you remember to keep things in perspective,” she said. “Each and every day, events happen, big and small. Your perspective will determine the life you lead. You can choose to focus on the things that go well or the things that do not. As in any life, there will be some of both. Choose your focus wisely.”
She encouraged the group to “never stop learning” as they embark on whatever career or postsecondary path they have chosen. “Pay close attention to the lessons that real life will teach you,” she said. “I hope that you take time to explore what the world has to offer and think about what you enjoy.”
Salutatorian Alyssa Barylski, who came to Katahdin in April 2017, recalled how slowly but surely her life began to change for the better. She also noted how open and inviting many in the school were to her and her brother.
“I had left so much behind and came to a place where I had nothing,” she said. “Little did I know how much I needed the change.”
By the time her senior year rolled around, Barylski was far more comfortable, and confident, entering Katahdin High School.
“As the year went on, I adapted even more to what it was like to be here at Katahdin,” she said. “My years here have helped me find confidence in myself that I never thought I could have. I have been able to feel proud of myself and I have found passions that I didn’t know I had.”
Valedictorian John McNally took his peers on a trip down memory lane in his address. “We have made so many memories together as classmates in the halls of this school and in our community,” he said. “These memories may not seem like they are important right now, but they will become cherished pieces of our lives in the years to come.”
Haley Landry delivered the class message and encouraged her peers to hold onto the memories they have created.
“When we leave here today, I want all of you to know that no matter what you do, don’t regret what you have done,” she said. “Be proud of who you are and how far you have come in life.”
Aaron Marston, a graduate of the Katahdin Class of 1993, continued the school’s tradition of having a former Cougar return to serve as the guest speaker for the ceremony. Marston once served as executive director of a sports rehabilitation facility in Jacksonville, Florida, where he worked with many professional baseball, football, soccer and golf athletes. He now resides in Presque Isle and is a professor at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
“To the Class of 2019, find your passion because passion gives you purpose,” he said. “When you find your passion, work at it. Become so persistent, so diligent, so skilled and so ridiculously great at what you do that your talent can’t be dismissed, ignored or denied.”