Parents and friends gathered at the Wiscasset Speedway on Thursday, June 10 to witness Wiscasset Middle High School’s 35 seniors reach the finish line of their high school careers.
It was the second consecutive commencement ceremony at the speedway. While attendees had to remain in their cars last year, this year’s guests filled 200 folding chairs on the tarmac with some overflow into the racetrack’s bleachers.
Seniors Gwen Webber and Matt Eckert served as emcees and introduced the evening’s student and faculty speakers, who all called attention to the senior class’s abundant flexibility and school spirit amidst a hybrid schedule of in-person and distanced learning.
Senior Ty DeLong spoke to the difficulties that the senior class has had to contend with, both personally and collectively, in order to reach graduation. DeLong spoke to his own struggles with mental health, coming out as transgender, and the passing of his grandmother.
“We have overcome so many trials and tribulations both as a class and as individuals. This past year especially has made this apparent. Through a worldwide pandemic we were able to band together, making the best of a bad situation,” DeLong said.
Senior Kyle Ricker and education technician Debra Pooler both spoke to the class’s unwavering enthusiasm during the unconventional year.
Ricker cited the track team’s record number of members during a season when participation has suffered at other schools, while Pooler discussed the class’s willingness to find creative, socially distanced alternatives for the school’s usual traditions and events.
“I am super proud of them for stepping up and being strong leaders for the underclassmen and not letting school spirit slip away without a fight,” Pooler said.
Pooler said that one of her favorite duties at WMHS is posting students’ future plans to bulletin boards in the front lobby. She said that among the graduates sat future carpenters, builders, engineers, doctors, nurses, business leaders, a marine, scientists, emergency medical technicians, a zoologist, game wardens, archaeologists, and an artist.
DeLong and fellow senior Gabby Leavitt presented the senior class’s donations of balls to the physical education program to support the continuation of competitive four square at the school, as well as a check for $2,000 to the Climate Club to support its composting system project.
Before he and Assistant Principal Warren Cossette presented graduates with their diplomas, Principal Charles Lomonte also spoke about the seniors’ resilience and their ability to find gratitude for the little things in the past year.
“No matter who you are and what your circumstance is, you can always find something to be grateful for. And I have to tell you these students found things. Amidst the darkness they found the light,” Lomonte said.
The recessional was led by valedictorian Webber and salutatorian John Hodson and accompanied by “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts and fireworks.
After the ceremony, the Wiscasset, Alna, and Edgecomb fire departments and the Wiscasset Police Department led a parade through Wiscasset.