HEBRON — Hebron Academy Class of 2014 President Donita Gail Sharkey told her classmates at Saturday’s commencement exercises to “strive for excellence,” as they begin the next part of their life journey.

“With diligence and patience, we’ll make our masterpieces in life,” she told her 80 fellow senior class members.

The Class of 2014  marched out of the historic Sturtevant Hall to commencement exercises led by piper Chris Pinchbeck, Class of 1987, shortly before 10:30 Saturday morning.

Their fellow underclassmen and faculty, who wore colorful robes, formed a long receiving line as the graduating girls, all in white dresses carrying white flowers, and the boys who wore suits with white boutonnieres, marched under a cloudy sky into the Athletic Center where the commencement exercises were held.

“You led our school with spirit and accomplishment,” said Head of School John J. King as he addressed the graduating class and hundreds of their family and friends, classmates, faculty and staff. “You speak your minds and you speak your hearts.”

“You’ve got what it takes and, as importantly, you know who’s behind you, who’s got your back,” King said.

A number of awards were presented during the ceremony.

The Risman Honor Award, in recognition of academic accomplishment, determination in athletic endeavor and outstanding good character, was presented to Janelle Webb Tardif of Auburn.

Class Salutatorian Brittany Lauren Myrick of Lewiston was presented the Ernest Sherman Award for her marked qualities of humanity. She also won the award for academic excellence in history.

Other awards presented to local students included the Ernest Sherman Award, which went to Charlotte Lucy Middleton of Hebron for her dedication to the academy and personal concern for fellow students and the community.

Following the presentation of awards, Board of Trustees Chairman J. Reeve Bright, Class of 1966, was recognized for his service. Bright addressed students by recalling the early 1970s when as a college graduate he was inducted into the “The Big Green Machine,” the U.S. Army.

“I was full of myself, then I found out how bad it was going to be,” said Bright as he described his training at Fort Knox under a drill sergeant whom he described as a short man with biceps the size of watermelons and eyes that bugged out.

He was known as “The Frog,” Bright said.

“He made it clear that people from college did not have a full deck of cards and he wasn’t going to give it to them,” said Bright who took to reading books he kept in his shirt pocket, a move that “infuriated” his drill sergeant.

From learning the phonetic system in radio school to cleaning a storage room, the drill sergeant gave Bright — whom he called “the book guy” — and other college graduates a tough time as he made them earn their “cards.”

“In the end, sitting on my duffel bag waiting to ship out, the sergeant walked over to me and said, ‘Good luck, be safe and may God bless you,'” said Bright. “I was stunned.”

Looking at the members of the Class of 2014, Bright concluded his speech saying, “It’s not the cards you’re dealt. It’s how you play them and as the old sergeant said, good luck, be safe and may God bless you.”

Following the presentation of diplomas, the Hebron Academy Hymn, “Sow Ye Beside All Waters,” was sung. The hymn was written by the Rev. Samuel F. Smith, author of “America,” for the dedication of Sturtevant Hall in 1891.

“This is not the end; it is a new start,” said Class Valedictorian Marci Kloster of Brazil as the students prepared to line up and proceed out of the center.

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