LIVERMORE FALLS — Sixty-two seniors became the first class to graduate from Spruce Mountain High School on Saturday evening at South Campus.
More than 600 people of all ages packed the gym and watched and photographed 23 girls dressed in white gowns and caps and 39 boys wearing green gowns and caps as they walked in to take seats facing the rear of the gym.
Spruce Mountain High School was founded in 2011 when Livermore Falls High School and Jay High School combined with the consolidation between RSU 36 and the Jay School Department.
Principal Steven C. Leunig urged the Class of 2012 to remember that that they were the first members of the Spruce Mountain alumni. The North Campus seniors graduate in Jay on Sunday.
School Board Chairman Denise Rodzen spoke to the graduates individuality, telling them, "Nothing, no one can hold you back."
With the tools given them by their teachers and parents, she told them to choose wisely.
"Be safe, not sorry; make good choices and please, have the time of your lives," Rodzen said.
Class Vice President and Salutatorian Shaunna Damboise told her classmates, "Smile a lot, laugh a lot, embrace your individuality and love your life."
Following a rousing performance of David Shaffer's "Fire Dance" by the Spruce Mountain High School Band, Nathan Purrington gave the commencement address.
Purrington, the South Campus social studies teacher, was also the class adviser. His speech was modeled on words of advice given to him by a parent when he was a child, he said.
Between each saying, he shared words of advice, and then finished his speech by reading through the sayings.
"Be nice, slow down, make sure to brush your teeth, say thank you, be appreciative, smile, go to time out, eat your vegetables, make sure to visit your grandparents, go outside and play, say please and thank you, stop copying your brother and your sister, don't talk to strangers, make sure to bring a jacket, tell me about your day, have a good day at school, and always, always pick up your toys," Purrington said to laughter and applause.
The Senior Chorus sang Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," and Francesca Bastelli's "It's Your Life."
In Kathryn Ventrella's valedictory address, she told her classmates, "Realize that life struggles are life lessons and learn from them."
"Good luck to the Class of 2012; we made it," she said.
Anne Weatherbee, the South Campus English teacher and senior adviser, said, "Graduating from high school is the first step to adulthood. Discover what you love and pursue it. Learn all you can and find a way to make it part of your life."
Following the presentation of diplomas, class treasurer Kyle Sawyer drew the biggest and longest laughs of the evening when, either intentionally or in error, he led off his Thank You speech by saying, "As the first graduating class of Spruce Mountain Middle School."
In his farewell speech, class historian Thomas Brenner told the graduates, "No matter how much you leave behind, there is much more out there in the world; take advantage of that and carve yourself a place in the world, but remember to bring a piece of us with you."