RANGELEY — The 13 seniors in Rangeley Lakes Regional School’s graduating class of 2012 were treated to a ceremony that lacked none of the traditional pomp and ritual. A capacity crowd of families, friends and well-wishers filled the school’s gymnasium for the event Saturday afternoon.
Tim Straub, English teacher and senior class adviser, who acted as master of ceremonies, kept the two-hour celebration moving briskly with narration and commentary that was alternately light-hearted and touching.
The featured speaker was two-time Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott of Farmington, who had been at the Rangeley school in his earlier years.
After the traditional Elgar march brought the graduating students to the stage, Ellie Brooks, Abby Abbott, and Jenney Abbott opened the ceremony with a lovely three-part a cappella arrangement of the National Anthem.
Though he confessed to having found out earlier, Tim Straub graciously and warmly accepted the dedication of the 2012 yearbook, along with a new set of golf clubs, which he broke in with a putt on a strip of turf unrolled on the stage. There were calls of “Group hug!” to which he answered “Too early!”
After a memorial recognition to departed students, Wescott took the podium for a reflective and encouraging speech that, not surprisingly used snow and mountains for an extended metaphor.
“A friend of mine from Switzerland,” Wescott said, “calls this a 12-year hike up a mountain. On the way up you’re picking up pieces of information and putting them in your pack. Now at the summit you can see the landscape you’ve come from, and the surrounding peaks that are your new challenges.”
Wescott also challenged them to turn off the electricity for one day a week. “Pick up a book and read it,” he said. “Pick up a pencil and write. Find a friend and have a conversation. To be alone but not lonely is a great lesson in life, but so is to share your skills with your friends, who see the same beauty in the peaks you’re climbing.”
Valedictorian Emily Carrier and Salutatorian Danielle Dutile shared the podium in an ensemble address, in which they took turns sharing light-hearted reminiscences and tongue-in-cheek advice with their classmates.
Guidance advisor Heidi Deery announced that Travis Irish and Steven Heath wore the Burgundy Cord of graduates from Foster Technology Center, and that other graduates were going to schools as varied as University of Southern Maine, UMaine Farmington, University of New England, Roger Williams University, Endicott College, and Rhode Island School of Design.
Two students were awarded $1000 scholarships from the Rangeley Regional Health Center: Sandra Campbell in Health Sciences and Hudson DeRaps in the Arts. The Seasonal Friends of Rangeley $3500 scholarship went to Emily Carrier, and the Franklin Savings Bank $3000 scholarship to Chantal Carrier. Ellie Brooks won the $500 Rangeley Friends of the Arts award for outstanding achievement in the Arts.
Other students who shared $46,000 in scholarships from local donors were Ellen Brooks, Kyle Haley, Alexandria Letarte, Chelsea Dresser, Steven Heath, Alexander Morton, Hudson DeRaps, Darren Jannace, Danielle Dutile, Chantal Carrier, and Emily Carrier.
In a moving gesture, Juniors Abby and Jenney Abbott provided the Seniors with yellow roses, which the passed among the audience to hand to special family members and friends.
With a luxury afforded to few schools with larger classes, the Seniors then retired to a circle of recliners and comfy chairs set up in one corner of the gym to enjoy the Senior Class slide show and movie. As a surprise, Mr. Straub kept them there for a film prepared by their parents, in which, accompanied by the Beatles’ All You Need is Love, they held up three-word messages. Many were variants of “Live, Laugh, Love,” “Proud Of You,” and “Call Home Often,” though one that caused chuckles said, “Explain The Wings!”
The presentation of diplomas, with mortarboards flung into the air, and the group hug, followed Mr.Straub’s farewell address, in which he was unexpectedly joined by Hudson DeRaps in an inspired a cappella rendition, with custom-crafted lyrics, of “You Did It Your Way.” Principal Sherry Connally announced the completion of study requirements and official graduation.