Fort Fairfield lauds 26 new graduates

2 weeks ago

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Fort Fairfield Middle High School celebrated 26 graduates of the Class of 2024 during a ceremony Sunday afternoon.

The class received more than $220,000 in scholarships from local groups and organizations as well as other foundations that support Maine students.

Family and friends filled the school’s gym while faculty, staff and seniors processed in to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.” 

Salutatorian Jakob Long told his classmates to celebrate their shared memories and adventures, and that their unique talents and passions make them unforgettable.

“Never lose sight of who you are and what makes you special,” he said.

Valedictorian and class president Crystal Forbes reminded the group that, although it may seem daunting to go out into the world, they should keep the big-picture perspective and remember that they’re not alone. 

Many people think growing up is leaving things behind, but it’s more about collecting — friends, experiences, jobs and other keys to life — and bringing those collections through life, she said.

“Remember, leaving things behind is a part of life, but we choose what we take with us into the future. I can’t wait to see what your collection looks like,” she said.

Principal Garrett Martin presented academic awards to Forbes and Long, as well as honor awards for those in the top 15 percent of the class. Honor awards went to Joel Cormier, Lydia Gorneault and Abagayle Mulherin.

Martin urged the class to remember the importance of community. As they have faced challenges, overcome obstacles and embraced opportunities, they’ve learned lessons as important as any academic subject, he said.

“In your workplaces, on your campuses, in your neighborhoods, seek connections.  Seek out opportunities to bring people together, to uplift those around you and to contribute to something larger than yourself,” he said.

SAD 20 Superintendent Tanya Staples delivered the commencement address. She asked the group how many of them had heard the question: What are you going to do after high school?  

“We focus so hard on the next step,” she said. “I challenge you to change the question. I challenge you to think not about what you’re going to do, but who you’re going to be.”

She recalled her father teaching her when she was young to be kind and to respect custodians as much as faculty, because everyone matters. Those same character traits that formed who she became led her to what she was going to do in education, she said.

She encouraged the class to look at the role models around them, to see who they are as people, and strive to be compassionate, responsible, gracious and generous.

Martin and Staples handed out diplomas, and the new graduates turned their tassels. A receiving line formed in the school so all could congratulate the class.