CARIBOU, Maine — With family, friends and mentors cheering them on, 103 students graduated from Caribou High School Sunday.
The gymnasium soon became standing room only as the soon-to-be alumni marched onto the floor and took their seats. From the start, the class speakers made it clear who they most wanted to recognize.
“Whether you are a mother, father, grandma or grandpa, an aunt or uncle or a brother or sister, we are graduating today because of all of you,” said Class President Jadynn Blackstone-Eye.
This year’s class chose to honor those people, along with Caribou High School teachers and administrators, through both speeches and musical selections.
After her rendition of the National Anthem, Courtney Whitmore joined fellow graduates Samantha White, Ephraim Willey, George Ferland, Landyn Hyde, David Smith and Blackstone-Eye, and other high school chorus members, to perform “We’ll Rise Above.”
The high school band, featuring seniors Willey, Ferland and Jonathan Lovewell, treated the crowd to a rousing performance of “Zeus: The King of the Gods.”
Valedictorian Kayley Bell said that she had watched many other commencement speeches online, hoping to find the right message to share with her classmates.
She became most inspired by Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, in which he told graduates to find what they truly love to do.
“As Steve Jobs stated, ‘The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do,’” Bell said. “So if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”
In her address, Salutatorian Ashlyn Bouchard compared life to the many multiple choice tests the class has taken. Some answers appear similar to the correct one and often lead students in the wrong direction.
But in life, some answers do not come easy and many will involve making mistakes, Bouchard said.
“Like on the tricky multiple-choice tests, never be afraid to change your direction in life,” Bouchard said. “Life is about accepting failure and growing from it.”
Along with mistakes and failure will come many changes for the Class of 2023, noted Principal Jamie Selfridge.
Some changes will become part of the graduates’ everyday routines, like the clothes they must wear to work or the time they set their alarm clocks. Others will be more life-changing, like moving away from home, getting their first full-time job or building new circles of friends and colleagues.
But no matter what, students should embrace the opportunities that come with change, Selfridge said.
“Perhaps you have done things the same way for the last several years,” Selfridge said. “Be willing to try something new or do something differently. Great things are created when people are willing to welcome change and think flexibly.”
Before leaving the gym one final time, the graduates performed their class song, Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos on This Town,” commemorating the memories they’ve made.