Forty-four seniors graduated from Wiscasset Middle High School on Friday, June 12 in a drive-in ceremony at Wiscasset Speedway.
Friends and family watched from inside or on top of their cars, parked on the grass in the center of the speedway and decorated with balloons, signs, and streamers, as students picked up their diplomas off a table.
Graduates wore masks throughout the ceremony, which WMHS Principal Charles Lomonte began with a moment of silence for Connor McLean, a 2019 graduate who died of cancer in early June. His sister, Maddie McLean, was this year’s salutatorian.
The hour-long ceremony featured speakers from the administration, faculty, and graduating class, with each speaker using their own microphone.
Senior class adviser and WMHS science teacher Prema Long highlighted each student individually, complimenting their kindness, bravery, artistic and musical talents, career aspirations, deep friendships, and academic achievements.
“You inspired me every day over the past five years to be a good teacher and a better human,” Long said. “I love you all and I’m so excited to see what unfolds for you next.”
The class of 2020 was the first group of eighth graders to share the school with seniors in 2015, when Wiscasset closed a school and put grades seven through 12 in the high school building.
“It was so scary to see the seniors, and at the time I couldn’t even imagine being as old as them, but here we are,” said valedictorian Kaitlyn Main, who started taking college classes at the University of Maine in Orono last summer. “We’ve all watched each other grow up, and it’s sad to move on, but I’m glad you were the kids I got to grow up with.”
Main said that although no one wanted their senior year to end with distance learning and the cancellation of traditional events, the experience served as a reminder not to take time for granted.
“We didn’t know we wouldn’t be able to hug our friends goodbye, or thank our teachers in person one last time,” Main said. “I hope that if you remember anything from this speech, or the entire ‘coronacation’ situation, it’s to take advantage of every second you have in this life.”
Other speakers included Wiscasset School Department Superintendent Terry Wood and seniors Billy Pinkham and Natalie Potter. Potter spoke to the difficulty of graduating during a pandemic and the disappointment she and her class experienced.
“You’re in the lead of the race, the finish line is in sight, but then you get knocked down and hit into the barricade,” Potter said. “You can’t sit there though. You have to go back to the garage to fix what’s broken and get ready for the next race.”
“Our generation was born around 9/11, and has dealt with tragedy after tragedy and the uncertainty of our country while growing up,” Potter said. “However, it is our generation that can make a change – a new idea, a cure, a way of living peacefully and happily.”
Diplomas were awarded by WMHS Assistant Principal Warren Cossette and Julie Kenney, director of the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a parade of vehicles drove from Wiscasset Speedway to the school, with spectators standing in their yards and along sidewalks to celebrate the graduates. A fireworks display at the school capped off the night.