52 earn diplomas at Fort Kent’s graduation

11 months ago

FORT KENT, Maine — Fort Kent Community High School’s Class of 2023 took center stage at graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 9.

The 52 graduating seniors marched in to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” led by class marshals Sadie Pelletier and Ethan Raymond. Sierra Haggenmiller and Tia Saucier sang the National Anthem.

Student Council member Sadie Pelletier, Class Treasurer Genevieve Michaud-Naranja and Class President Connor Pelletier spoke, reflecting on some of the best life lessons they will take away from their high school experiences.

Tia Saucier and Sierra Haggenmiller sing the National Anthem during Fort Kent Community High School’s graduation ceremony on June 9. (Courtesy of Fort Kent Community High School)

Growing up in a small town, it was easy to dream of opportunities in bigger cities, Sadie Pelletier said. But there’s more to Fort Kent than she realized and there are opportunities for those who want them.

“The title of my college essay was ‘Excuses are limits you create,’ and it is something I truly believe,” she said. “I want to share this epiphany with my fellow classmates because wherever we end up, it will be easier to give excuses than to make new opportunities for ourselves.”

She thanked parents, teachers and school staff, and urged classmates to treasure their memories while making new ones in the next part of their lives.

Sadie Pelletier of the Class of 2023 addresses her classmates during Fort Kent Community High School’s graduation ceremony on June 9. (Courtesy of Fort Kent Community High School)

Michaud-Naranja likened the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic to a sudden wildlife encounter.

“Animals come out of nowhere sometimes and all you can do is hit it straight on or swerve. COVID was our moose, an obstacle that came out of nowhere and forced us to change the trajectory of our path. Who would have thought that one day in March 2020, the way we learned would never be the same?” she said.

Yet overcoming pandemic challenges helped the class develop resiliency and unity, she said. That perspective will be valuable when encountering life’s struggles and making independent decisions.

Genevieve Michaud-Naranja speaks during Fort Kent Community High School’s graduation ceremony on June 9. (Courtesy of Fort Kent Community High School)

Connor Pelletier thanked family members for supporting the class throughout their school years.

“To all of our parents and guardians, thank you so much for walking us through this crazy ride. You showed us the right from the wrong and how to make the best out of every situation that life decides to throw us,” he said. “You showed us how to dance in the rain when there is a storm.”

He advised the class to let themselves shine, enjoy life, take the time to do good work and, above all, to stay positive.

Graduating senior Connor Pelletier addresses the Class of 2023 during graduation on June 9 at Fort Kent Community High School. (Courtesy of Fort Kent Community High School)

Principal John Kaleta impressed upon the seniors that true validation comes from within.

“In this era of social media and constant connectivity, it’s easy to get caught up in what others think about us. However, I implore you not to worry about what people think about you. Your individuality and uniqueness are what make you special. Embrace your true self, be authentic, and stay true to your values,” he said.

A good life balance involves working and playing hard, exploring one’s talents and being brave, but also remembering to lean on others and not “go it alone,” he said.

A number of awards were presented and the class and audience enjoyed a slide show before the conferring of diplomas.