PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle High School’s Class of 2023 students received their diplomas and a memorable send-off during graduation on Saturday in the school gym.
Class member Alexandra Cyr sang the national anthem a capella. The Presque Isle High School/Middle school band, under the direction of high school band director Patrick Bragdon, performed music, and senior Emma Deeves also offered a song to her classmates.
Senior class president Rossalyn Buck thanked all the parents and guardians, teachers, administrators and advisers who supported the class through their years of high school.
Buck acknowledged the class had seen both good and bad times, but were united by common bonds built during their years together.
“We were there for each other through it all,” she said. “I’m confident that any one of us would drop anything to help one another.”
Indeed, the last few months of their freshman year were overshadowed by a worldwide pandemic, said class speaker Sophia Gordon, but during that challenging period students somehow found themselves and a way to unite.
“Thank you, Class of 2023. We made our difference,” she said. “Face the future with confidence, courage and optimism, and gratitude for the life we have been given.”
Dr. Kelly Chandler Olcott, a 1988 graduate who is dean of Syracuse University’s School of Education, shared some life lessons learned in her keynote address. She compared her first job — working at Houlton Farms Dairy in Presque Isle — with her current position.
“I forced myself to have a brownie sundae just for you. You’re welcome,” she quipped.
Olcott offered advice from which new graduates could benefit. First, look for opportunities to work on new teams and find alternative ways to work together. Secondly, look ahead and be aware of what tradeoffs are acceptable. Lastly, question the assumptions people may have.
For instance, she said, the dairy bar once employed only females, while neighboring Daigle Oil hired only males. Today those divisions are not as rampant in the working world because people questioned the status quo and acted to change things.
“Pay attention to things people say to you that put limits on certain groups,” she said. “Speak up for yourselves if you think you’re being underestimated, and stand up for others as well.”
Principal Dave Bartlett continued the school’s longtime tradition of recognizing seniors with the top five grade point averages. He presented plaques to Lindsey Himes, first place; Jaylee Howlett, second; Rossalyn Buck, third; Malachi Cummings, fourth; and Alivia Fitzherbert, fifth.
Bartlett, SAD 1 Superintendent Ben Greenlaw and SAD 1 board chair Lucy Richard presented diplomas to the 116 class members.