CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Carrabassett Valley Academy held a graduation ceremony for 36 members of the class of 2005 and a capacity crowd of family and friends on June 4 in the Richard Bell Chapel at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Headmaster John Ritzo welcomed the graduates, saying, “Seniors, this is your day. You are an exceptional class and we are all so very proud of you. This is a threshold day for you. Commencement means a new beginning.”

Sarah E. Billmeier, 10-time Paralympic medalist, a seven-time world championships medalist, a Dartmouth College graduate and in her third year at Harvard Medical School, delivered the commencement address.

Billmeier said, “Most people talk about their limitations due to their disabilities, but for me my disability has opened doors of opportunity. When I was ski racing I set goals at the beginning of each ski season; now that I am focused on becoming a surgeon, I set goals at the beginning of each step toward achieving this goal. I want to take the lessons I have learned as a patient to help me become a great surgeon.”

Valedictorian Jim Whitledge of Weston, Mass., and Salutatorian Julia Peck Coffin of Carrabassett Valley presented remarks. The Faculty Choice speaker was Nelle Ward of Dorset, Vt., and Zach Kellman of McLean, Va., was chosen by the seniors to present the class remarks.

Joan Dolan, Marie Leary and Ritzo then presented the annual academic and community awards to the following students:

Headmaster’s Award, Sam Pelletier and Julie Peck Coffin; David Holmes Most Improved Student Award, Tyler Smith; Benjamin Weisbein Academic Award, Elizabeth Thompson; Barbara Trafton Award, Dylan Perry; Alumni Award, Jake Payson; J. Keith Pettinger Award, Jaime Bisson; King Cummings Service Award, Clem Begin and Scott Hoisington.

The students honored Faculty of the Year Award winner Ellen Kieser for her caring and empathetic attitude and cheerful approach.


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