Houlton Region

Cougars enjoy one final hurrah at Katahdin Middle-High School

STACYVILLE, Maine — Traditionally, seniors at Katahdin Middle-High School perform one of the more touching ceremonies during commencement as seniors take red roses to their loved ones.

But these are not traditional times.

While the rose ceremony may have been missing from Saturday’s commencement, the jubilation and excitement was plentiful for the graduating class of seniors as they gathered one last time at their school.

Salutatorian Lorin Clendenin smiles as she prepares to read her address at Katahdin Middle-High School’s commencement Saturday morning. (Joseph Cyr)

Holding an outdoor ceremony in front of the high school, the 20 graduating seniors sat in a semicircle around a stage as loved ones sat in parking spots reserved for family.

Salutatorian Lorin Clendenin said Saturday’s ceremony was a bittersweet moment given the fact that COVID-19 took away many of the end of the year festivities for seniors.

“This is the day we have been anticipating, dreaming about and planning for years,” Clendenin said. “Amidst a pandemic that has stretched worldwide and while humanity’s struggle for advancement has disrupted the very systems of our Earth. And also during the largest civil rights movement in [modern] history. I believe we are here, now for a reason. We could be the generation of change. The lives we will lead will not be easy, but if you choose, they can be purposeful.”

Class Marshall Jordyn Gardner leads her class out of Katahdin Middle-High School Saturday morning for her school’s commencement ceremony. (Joseph Cyr)

Valedictorian Shelby Lewis thanked the many families, teachers and staff at KMHS for their support over the years. Lewis encouraged her classmates to “Be the light,” as she quoted a verse from the Bible. 

“To my classmates I tell you as we leave high school today, it is our turn to light the spark of others,” she said. “It is my promise today — and I hope it becomes the promise of my classmates — to be the light for others. In this way, I hope that we can create a wave of light that radiates love, success and inspiration.”

Superintendent/Principal Marie Robinson thanked the family and friends who gathered for Saturday morning’s ceremony and expressed her gratitude to the senior class for letting her be a part of their lives.

“Each of you have everything you need to create the life you want,” she said. “It’s yours for the taking. Your lives have been turned upside down, but this too shall pass. Your job is to decide how you will move forward, because you never have to become what happened to you. You determine what you choose to become.”

Shanequa Foss, right, gets a kiss on the cheek from her mother Pastor Ruth Foss during Saturday’s commencement at Katahdin Middle-High School in Stacyville. (Joseph Cyr)

Tellis Coolong, a 1996 graduate from KHS who is an author of three novels, encouraged the graduates to make the best of whatever they may have in life and to never take anything for granted.

“The struggle builds character and character is what you are going to need out there [in the world], more than knowledge or quick wits, or strength, celebrity or fame and glory,” he said. 

Class president Jordyn Gardner reminded the class that their future remains bright.

“The next chapter might seem more daunting than it did before, as everything around us has changed for the time being, but that should not stop us,” Gardner said. “As we leave here, we must keep going after our dreams.” 

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