POLAND — Carly King is going to college to be a dentist, Bronte Levasseur to work with animals, Nick Santos to work in the music business.

After college, Ivy Murphy-Dulac plans to work in the arts, Evan Gallagher in business.

They and 101 others graduated Saturday from Poland Regional High School during a packed ceremony in the school gymnasium.

After the graduates marched in and took their seats, Principal Cari Medd said this year marks the 17th graduation for the young school. Already, 2,000 people have earned diplomas from the high school.

Looking at the graduates, Medd said they’ve earned their diplomas. They can read, write, problem solve; they know science, math, health. They can use technology and can give presentations for 25 minutes.

They participated in clubs, theater, athletics and have performed hours of community service.

“You’re sitting here because you’ve risen to the challenge we’ve given you,” Medd said. “And you succeeded. You earned your seat today. And we are very proud of you.”

Nick Santos was the master of ceremonies. He played guitar and sang a song he wrote, “From the Top of Pottle Hill.” Some students sang along.

Santos struck a chord. His classmates gave him a rousing standing ovation.

The keynote speech was given by former gubernatorial candidate and businessman Shawn Moody.

As they consider where to settle, he encouraged them to stay in Maine, a state that has the oldest population in the country and needs young people.

“We’re all aging out,” he said, and younger workers will be needed.

“So if you love Maine, stay in Maine,” he said. “Build a life in Maine.”

Some people work with their hands, others with their heads, he said.

“If you can work with your hands and your head and your heart, there are no limitations,” Moody said.

After you graduate, “the only thing holding you back is you,” he said, “so get out there and get after it.”

Salutatorian Erin Brewer talked about the school’s Winter Carnival tradition in which classes compete against each other. As freshmen, “we had five people out of 120 decorating our hallway while all the upperclassmen had armies.”

They did poorly that year, and not much better as sophomores. But this year, “we put aside all of our differences and came together,” she said. After years of trying, they won because they were united.

In her speech, Valedictorian Brooke Yorkey talked about how high school seemed to go as fast as a comet.

As they leave high school and go to college, the military, the workforce or the Peace Corps, she encouraged them to be kind and to love.

“Love your family and your friends and your pets and your community,” Yorkey said. “Love your job, your house, our car. Love when you’re angry. Love when you’re upset.”

Love is, she said, “what makes us shine and ever glow.”

 

106: Number graduating

81: Going to college

18: Going into the workforce

4: Joining the military

2: Undecided

Song chosen by class: “Long Live” by Taylor Swift

How will these students be remembered? “The Class of 2016 has worked hard to get to graduation day,” Principal Cari Medd said. “We have enjoyed getting to know each unique student, and watching them grow throughout high school. We are so proud of them, and wish them the best of luck.”