BUCKFIELD – Forty-nine seniors graduated from Buckfield Junior-Senior High School on Friday night in a ceremony that urged them to remember their roots and follow their dreams.

“You are an extraordinary group of young adults,” said class adviser Deb Wetherell in the opening remarks. “You have made us all laugh, cry, shout in excitement and, yes, sometimes in frustration.”

Class officers presented a rocking chair to Wetherell as a gift for her service and gave thank-you cards to the principal, superintendent and guest speaker Terry Hayes, the Democratic state representative from Buckfield.

Cassandra Dillon, the class salutatorian, thanked the assembled family and friends for “always believing in us.”

“Look around you,” she said. “Every person sitting here today is for us.”

Prior to the address by Hayes, Melody Brooker performed “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts.

“I’m not nervous when I stand up on the floor of the House,” Hayes joked about her anxiety before starting her speech. “Nobody listens to me there.”

Turning to face the students, she told them to enjoy the moment, and said that the faculty had been learning lessons from the students over the years.

Her comments turned solemn as she recalled the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, at the school. “You weren’t watching what was on the TV,” she said. “You were watching us.”

She said the day made her aware of how the students took cues from the faculty.

“Don’t let anybody convince you that you can’t do something. Be daring. Be brave,” said Hayes, who served on the SAD 39 school board for 13 years.

She concluded by handing out packages of Mentos candy labeled “Buckfield: Who knew?” The gift was a reference to the fame of Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, the Buckfield-based duo that’s been nominated for an Emmy for their popular video of a complex fountain created by mixing Diet Coke and Mentos.

Emily Hutchinson, the class valedictorian, thanked teachers and family members for their support. “I’m proud of our class and what we’ve accomplished,” she said.

She encouraged the graduates to set goals, stay focused and work hard, and said that they all had what it takes to succeed.

Prior to remarks from the principal and superintendent, each student presented roses to their family members.

Principal Don Reiter said the graduates have made an enormous number of choices in their lives, and told them to come up with ways to wisely decide the most important ones.

“Good luck with all your future choices,” he concluded. “Congratulations.”

Superintendent Richard Colpitts said the graduates were so close-knit that they were more like a family than a class. He called the students “living representations of our school and its mission” and urged them to “take on the world.” He also praised the family and friends of the graduates.

“Your support of these graduates is evident,” he said. “They are Buckfield graduates, and that is something to take pride in.”

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