SALEM TOWNSHIP – Mt. Abram High School’s Class of 2009 marked the end of an era at their graduation ceremony Friday night.

In addition to celebrating their commencement, the 69 seniors thanked several retiring staff members for their roles in making the school a welcoming and productive place.

Jeanne Tucker is retiring after nine years as principal and 22 years teaching biology.

“The last nine years, she has engaged in transforming Mt. Abram High School into one of the best schools in the state of Maine,” SAD 58 Superintendent Quenten Clark said.

School board directors Ellen James and Anne Schwink presented Tucker with a chair with the Mt. Abram logo on it as the crowd gave her a standing ovation. When it was Tucker’s turn to speak, she became emotional as she thanked the students, parents and faculty for making her tenure as principal a memorable one.

“I want to thank you for this special privilege and honor to serve this district,” Tucker said. “It’s been a joy for me to serve here.”

She told the seniors how much she loved them and how she would follow their lives and careers.

Rep. Tom Saviello, U-Wilton. read a legislative sentiment honoring Tucker for her efforts. He also read a sentiment recognizing retiring industrial arts teacher Steve Yates for having a positive influence on so many young lives during his 30-plus years at Mt. Abram.

In her speech, senior Emma James pointed out how close-knit the class was, a far cry from the awkward “ice breaker” activities the class did just before their freshman year. On their senior class trip, “it was a big conversation with an amazing group of people,” James said.

“The lessons we’ve learned, the situations we’ve faced, and the mountains we’ve climbed have molded us into who we are now,” she noted.

James compared her years in high school with her challenging yet rewarding Nordic skiing races. In those races, she said, quitting isn’t an option and the most difficult parts of the course generally lead to the biggest reward.

“We owe all of our teachers a big thank-you, for without them, none of this would be possible,” she said.

Valedictorian Brianna Thorndike gave a humorous farewell address that had her classmates and the audience in stitches.

“To our teachers, thanks to you, we will always know that seven times eight equals 54. I mean, 56,” she said jokingly.

On a more serious note, Thorndike said, “Now we are equipped to handle the future because of what we’ve experienced in the past. Now is here. It is up to us what we do with it.”

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