The Star-Herald

Company to give book to high school seniors

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Barresi Financial Inc. of Presque Isle has announced that they will donate a special book to all Aroostook County High School Seniors as a graduation present. 

“We wanted to do something for this senior class that is missing out on so many of the traditional final high school year events and festivities,” said Scott Violette, partner at Barresi Financial. 

“I recently purchased John Cariani’s new book, Almost, Maine, for my daughter and thought it might be nice for others to enjoy a book from a graduate of Presque Isle High School,” he said. 

Violette contacted the author, who was enthusiastically supportive of the gesture and arranged a bulk purchase through the publisher. 

John Cariani, although not born in Presque Isle, moved here at a young age and graduated from Presque Isle High School. He is a Tony Award-nominated actor and an accomplished playwright. He made his Broadway debut in the 2004 revival of ”Fiddler on the Roof” and received an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of Motel the Tailor. 

Cariani also originated the role of Nigel Bottom in the Broadway hit ”Something Rotten!” and received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for his performance. He also originated the role of Itzik in ”The Band’s Visit,” winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Musical. 

His play “Almost, Maine” premiered at Portland Stage Company in 2004 and became the most successful play in Portland Stage’s history, selling out its run and garnering critical acclaim. 

The play opened off Broadway in 2006 and has since become one of the most popular plays in the United States, with nearly 100 professional productions and over 5000 community, university, and high school productions to date. It is currently the most frequently produced play in North American high schools and was just released as a book in March of 2020. 

“‘Almost, Maine’ is a collection of interlinked, slightly surreal, love stories set in a fictional place called Almost, Maine,” said Cariani. “In researching the book, I learned that 80 percent of Americans can’t see the stars because of light pollution. People from Aroostook County are among the 20 percent who can see the stars. 

“So, to all the graduating seniors in The County, I would like to say this: Most people who are reaching for the stars have never seen them. But you’ve actually seen them. So you actually know what you’re reaching for. So to all of you, I say…reach. And keep reaching. If reaching for the stars means leaving northern Maine, I hope my book reminds you of the special place you’re from. And if reaching for the stars means staying in northern Maine, I hope you find that this book honors the place you call home.” Cariani said.

With schools not being in session for the remainder of the year, Barresi Financial invites Class of 2020 seniors to stop by their office at 34 North St. in Presque Isle to pick up their complimentary copy of “Almost, Maine.” 

“We really hope to see many seniors stop by, enjoy the book and maybe get inspired to go after their dreams as well,” Violette added “It’s a small gesture that our firm could offer to the graduating class of 2020.”

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