PORTLAND – In a ceremony full of smiles and cheers, but also with somber memories of those lost, Gray-New Gloucester High School graduated 132 Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Superintendent Victoria Burns said that even though these are uncertain times, she was confident the graduates would succeed. “Now go have an adventure,” she said. “We’re proud of you.”

Many thoughts were of the loss of sophomore Joshua Libby who died Tuesday in a car crash.

“I ask you to reflect on the bittersweet nature of life,” said Principal Paul Penna. Everyone wants happiness, success and love, but people must accept life on its terms. “Tonight our charge is difficult.” Life had called on them to both celebrate and mourn, Penna said.

“Over the past year, we have suffered the losses of four inspirational members of our school community. Each life, each loss, has had an effect on all of us. Our memories of Jess, Audrey, Nick and Josh are individual and deeply personal.”

It is appropriate to celebrate the happiness of the graduation while remembering those who are gone, the ending of one journey and the beginning of another. “Make no mistake,” Penna said. “Each of you earned this celebration.”

Valedictorian Emily Johnson recalled how each was asked when they were little what they wanted to be when they grew up. Now that the day had arrived, “What do you want to be now?”

Salutatorian Gianna Oddi said that even though Josh Libby wasn’t part of the graduating class, he was the fourth community member they had lost this year. “When will we ever grasp the concept that life is too short and it can end all too quickly?” she said. “Every moment should be lived to the fullest. You can never get it back.”

Travis Roy, a North Yarmouth Academy graduate who dreamed of playing Division I College Hockey but was paralyzed 11 seconds into his first game for Boston University, was the commencement speaker.

Roy talked about how he overcame tough times, graduated from college, wrote a book and started a foundation to help others.

He urged the graduates to have a passion for something they want to do, to have pride in themselves, and always to love.


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