Wiscasset Middle High School’s class of 2022 went out literally with a bang with a brief fireworks display concluding commencement ceremonies at the Wiscasset Speedway on Friday, June 10.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WHMS held graduation exercises at the West Alna Road racetrack for the second year in a row. Thirty-nine seniors received their diplomas with Wiscasset Police Chief Larry Hesseltine crossing the stage to accept the honor on behalf of his daughter Reese Ann-Marie Hesseltine, who is out of the country.
The theme of perseverance connected the speeches as three of the five scheduled speakers directly addressed the pandemic-related challenges the class faced during their four years of high school.
“We were all faced with, let’s be honest, a disastrous few years there,” said valedictorian Mason Davenport. “Many of us were absolutely put through the ringer, myself included, but we were able to persevere.”
Calling his fellow graduates more friends than classmates, Davenport credited specific friends and the class’s parents for their support. Speaking directly to his parents, Davenport said it would be hard to repay all they have done for him.
“I would not be up here speaking today if it wasn’t for you,” he said.
Class of 2022 salutatorian Naomi Wood devoted the bulk of her comments to the importance of kindness, calling it the single most important lesson she learned during her school experience. She credited WMHS Assistant Principal Warren Cossette with consistently encouraging kindness and humor.
She recalled her first day of high school as a terrified freshman sitting alone at lunch. “As I started unpacking my lunch, Mr. Cossette walked over and told me if he was a high school student he would sit with me at lunch because I had so much food to share,” Wood said. “Several minutes later, D’Nisha (Dawkins) came over and invited me to sit at her table. And that’s how I remember my first day of high school. The kindness of two individuals who went out of their way to welcome me at a new school”
“One small comment, one hello, even a simple smile,” Wood said. “You never know the impact your kindness will have on someone.”
Saying he was told to make his speech “as Dillon as possible” senior class President Dillon Leeman delivered his point with an anecdote about the Beatles.
At the time the Beatles broke up in 1970, George Harrison was only given credit for 25 of the Beatles’ more than 200 songs, Leeman said. That same year, Harrison released his first solo record which contained 28 songs, all of which were written during the Beatles’ existence.
“George was never ‘The Quiet Beatle,’” Leeman said. “He was not listened to. He let others’ lack of attention and criticism of his hard work dictate how he perceived his masterpieces.”
Leeman encouraged his classmates to remain true to themselves and not allow unfounded criticism and self-doubt distract them or damage their self image. “Just like ‘All Things Must Pass’ you are a masterpiece and the whole world should have the pleasure of listening to you,” he said.
Providing the keynote address, Wiscasset Superintendent of Schools Superintendent Terry Wood encouraged the class to make a difference in the world. Their future was in their own hands and their choices would determine their path, she said.
“If you choose a path that challenges you, that peaks your curiosity, that makes you want to make a difference, or brings you happiness, it is going to be a path that will provide purpose for you in your life,” Wood said.