LEWISTON — As he graduated with the Lewiston High School Class of 2014 Friday night, Nicholas Burpee wore a big smile and a black and gold U.S. Army sash.

Tyler Hish, 17, wore his red and white Army Guard sash as he marched into the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

The two were among a handful of graduates who wore military sashes during a full-house ceremony where 248 high school seniors became Lewiston High alumni.

After Burpee and Hish heard about controversy over whether a Poland Regional High School senior could wear her military sash with her cap and gown, they asked if they could wear their Army sashes at graduation.

Superintendent Bill Webster and Principal Linda MacKenzie said yes. Webster tweeted Friday morning that school officials “welcome LHS students enlisting in the military to wear their military sashes at graduation. Thank you for serving.”

“I feel very proud,” Burpee said. He signed up for the Army last year and completed his basic training last summer. This fall, he’ll study Army ROTC at the University of Maine.

Hish enlisted in the Army Guard last year and has gone to boot camp. He’s with the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard. After graduation, he’ll receive military training at Fort Lee, Va.

Wearing his Army sash “is a great opportunity to show people as we’re walking across the stage what we’re willing to do,” Hish said.

As the speeches began, Principal MacKenzie said 73 percent of the class will further their education in four- or two-year degree programs, preparatory schools, the military or certificate programs. Their hard work and dedication “brought you here tonight,” she said.

Members of the Class of 2014 are mature, confident, hardworking, thoughtful and giving. “Lewiston High School is very proud of you,” MacKenzie said. “You will always be a Blue Devil. Go, blue.”

Class President Paige Clabby said graduates did not get there on their own: They each have others to thank. She cited her parents as her biggest supporters. “I’m not a hugger,” Clabby said, but “they’re getting the biggest, tightest hug” once she walked across the stage.

Salutatorian was Benjamin Lowit; valedictorian was Emily Claire Fournier.

Keynote speaker Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmers’ Almanac and known to students for giving out giant candy bars at Halloween to those who know the password, offered graduates advice.

Saying they’ll learn from mistakes, Geiger said they should fail often, “unless you are in the medical field.”

They should have high emotional IQs. “While it is smart to be smart, I don’t know of any firm that succeeds without people working collaboratively,” he said.

Geiger told them to build their lives around their passions and to work hard. Hard work may seem obvious, he said, “but it is an increasingly scarce commodity.”

Before each graduate was called to receive his or her diploma, Geiger wished each luck. He and others encouraged them to remember their town, their Lewiston High School.

This Halloween, the first 100 people who knock at his door and say, “Go, blue,” will get extra candy bars, Geiger promised.


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