Quotes from English poets William Blake and Alfred Tennyson echoed through Edward J. McMann Field in Bath on Saturday afternoon, but the words of the outgoing senior class defined the Morse High School student-led graduation ceremony.
The event came a day after what class president Isabel Strelneck described as a “difficult night in our community”, when a fire caused extensive damage to Dike Newell Elementary School. The Office of the Fire Marshal is investigating the blaze and a local man has been arrested and charged with arson.
Still, Strelneck and half a dozen other student speakers focused on celebrating the promotion and their new membership in the Morse Enthusiast Alumni Association.
“I know that when we return for our alumni banquets and alumni weekends in five years, 10 years and 50 years, our rhythm will pick up and our show will continue,” Strelneck said.
“Our bond with Morse High School will endure,” valedictorian Iris Hennin agreed. “We will be proud to be graduates and take what you have taught us to new places.”
Friends and family of seniors, including former Morse students celebrating Alumni Weekend, gathered on and around McMann Field to cheer on the graduates as they slowly marched through two columns of their professors applauding.
“Just a few minutes ago it was eighth grade graduation, kindergarten graduation,” recalled Kim Owen, mother of Madeline Owen. “It flew.”
Student speaker Hadley Wong and school nurse Katrina Barter, winner of the Dr. Patricia Ames Distinguished Teacher Award, spoke about the challenges of high school life during a pandemic.
Students Isaac Ensel and Emma Beauregard pointed to the quarantine silver lining of self-discovery, which helped Ensel realize his passion for filmmaking and Beauregard discover a number of personal truths, big and small.
“For me, it’s that I love winter spice tea, that ‘Law and Order: SVU’ is by far the best ‘Law and Order’, that I love women, and I even learned to calm myself down when I’m anxious by thinking in French,” Beauregard said. “If I hadn’t had those lonely days during quarantine when my parents were both at work or those sleepless nights because I I was too worried about homework and my family getting sick, I don’t know if I would have ever gotten past the teabag chamomile – or the men.
Yet perhaps the most common refrain from the speakers was the promotion’s vast diversity of interests and backgrounds.
“Here today are artists, athletes, recent graduates, vocational students and more, each of whom has brought their unique perspectives to Morse,” said Salutatorian Lilly Clifford. “Like grains of sand, we collectively influenced the culture and values of the school.”
Student speaker Lora LaRochelle put it differently.
“If we were all the same,” she said, quoting her fisherman father, “we would cross paths.”
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