PARIS – Threatening weather forced the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s Class of 2007 from the Gouin Complex athletic field to the gymnasium, but the mood during Saturday evening’s graduation ceremonies remained buoyant.

“I couldn’t think of anything brighter or more emotional than looking at all these faces,” said Principal Theodore Moccia.

He praised the students for the hard work it took to arrive at the Saturday night ceremonies, and congratulated them for their success.

The seniors filed into the packed gymnasium, and the boys sat opposite the girls beneath a ceremonial backdrop that held the class motto: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” It is a quote by James Dean.

According to the evening’s program, there were 262 students receiving diplomas.

Class secretary Allison Reid began the ceremonies by urging the class to enjoy the moment.

“Don’t have any regrets,” she said, “and don’t hold back.”

Valedictorian David Harbage said the class was about to enter a world full of problems, and it would be the responsibility of educated youths such as the Class of 2007 to solve them. He urged the class to “keep alive this passion and drive” in order to accomplish that task.

“In this real world, we must be the masters of change,” Harbage said. “Who will protect and define our future if not us?”

Salutatorian Samantha Brown said the class was standing atop “Mount High School,” with a 360-degree view of the directions they could go, as well as the other peaks they would have to summit.

Brown proceeded to ask students to stand up so she could thank them. After recognizing a few individuals, she asked the athletes, musicians, and “anyone who has ever had a passion” to rise until the entire class was standing.

She thanked the class “for making me smile,” and said it will be easy for the graduates to continue spreading joy throughout the world.

“Be happy,” she said. “And make other people happy while you’re at it.”

Robert Kennedy, president of the University of Maine at Orono, said the students were a credit to their community and ready to move on from high school.

“Our state’s future is very bright,” he said.

He said the student’s lives “will be determined to a very significant extent” by education, and he urged them to continue on to higher learning.

Kennedy also told the students to work hard, set goals, and work to reach them. He said they should begin to think about their careers, and to remember the school faculty’s commitment to helping others in their decision.

“That might not be your career choice,” he said. “But it’s a noble one.”

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