The Star-Herald

Washburn grads reflect on memories, thank mentors as they look forward

WASHBURN, Maine — Twenty-six students graduated from Washburn District High School Friday evening and looked back on their most beloved memories from school before marching off to new endeavors.

As friends and family gathered in the high school gym, the top students gave speeches that thanked those people, as well as classmates, teachers and administrators who have given much-needed advice through the years.

Unlike many of his classmates, valedictorian Kevin Nader did not spend his entire childhood in Washburn. He moved there six years ago but found himself quickly making friends and feeling connected to the small-knit community.

Washburn valedictorian Kevin Nader receives his high school diploma from SAD 45 Superintendent Larry Worcester. (Courtesy of Crystal Hobbs)

“When I first moved here, I was greeted with open arms and accepted as a fellow student instead of an outsider,” Nader said. “These people have been there by my side from that moment on and that is something I truly appreciate.”

Nader’s classmates expressed similar gratitude for the friends and teachers that have shaped their high school years.

Salutatorian Hannah White thanked Washburn’s teachers for giving their students everything from quirky “dad jokes” to genuine advice and respect.

She also gave a shout-out to the many postsecondary paths that her classmates have chosen, including college, the workforce and military service. 

Washburn District High School salutatorian Hannah White receives her diploma from SAD 45 Superintendent Larry Worcester. (Courtesy of Crystal Hobbs)

“I believe that shows the true heart of this class, the heart to make the world a better place,” White said. “The faculty and staff have provided us with the pen to write our own story and have prepared us for our futures.”

First honor essayist Layla Harris, who began attending Washburn her freshman year, used her speech to highlight the “little things” that faculty and staff have done to make students’ high school years memorable.

“I’ll miss the little conversations in the morning with Mr. Worcester and Mr. P stopping me in the hallway to tell me my shoes are untied,” Harris said. “I was almost certain I would never miss this place, but as I stand here in front of you all I must admit that I will, in fact, miss spending my days here.”

As she prepared to wave goodbye to high school, second honor essayist Trinity Bartlett gave her classmates advice that she believed could apply to whatever paths they choose: always strive for high self-esteem.

Students in Washburn’s Class of 2022 turn their tassels to the left after receiving their diplomas. (Courtesy of Crystal Hobbs)

Though praise can be hard for people who struggle with self-esteem, anyone can benefit from realizing their worth as an individual. With the pandemic taking a toll on students’ mental health, developing self-esteem has never been more important, Bartlett said.

“You can make a conscious effort to stop giving a flying fiddle, to let yourself be free. It’s a skill that needs to be practiced, like meditating,” Bartlett said. “I know for sure that that’s what I need to practice, but once you truly understand how to let go, you will see the world as entirely different.”

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