LEWISTON — After giving them more time to complete required work to receive their diploma, Lewiston High School graduated 18 students Monday night.

The Lewiston High School August Graduation was held at The Green Ladle at Lewiston Regional Technical Center. Graduates in caps and gowns marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” and listended to speeches by Principal Shawn Chabot and Superintendent Bill Webster. There were lots of photos, smiles and tears.

Caleb Greeley, 18, was among the graduates. He didn’t graduate in June because he failed Algebra II by five points.

“I was pretty bummed out,” he said.

He went to summer school and passed Algebra II in a few weeks.

On Monday night, Greeley said he was happy, excited.

“Words cannot describe,” he said.  

He plans to enlist in the Coast Guard and train as a chef before going to college.

Hyann Willey, 19, didn’t graduate in June because she failed her government course. It wasn’t because she couldn’t do the work; it was because she was overwhelmed.

“I was working full time and going to school full time,” Willey said. “I’ve been living on my own since I was 17. I should not have picked up that many hours. But I had bills to pay.”

Formerly of York, Willey said she became homeless two years ago when she could no longer live with her family. She came to Lewiston and got help from New Beginnings and Lewiston High School’s homeless program.

On the night of the June graduation, she said,  “I was upset I wasn’t able to walk with my class. Tonight I can’t wait to graduate. I’m really excited, and relieved.”

She wanted to show up.

“I wanted the experience,” she said. “It’s once in a lifetime.”

As Willey spoke she wore her National Honor Society sash over her gown.

This fall, she’ll attend the University of New England in Biddeford to major in nursing. She plans to become a registered nurse specializing in caring for newborn infants.

“I can’t wait to go to college,” she said.

The keynote speaker was Ronda Fournier, a former high school science teacher and dean who is assistant principal at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston.

She spoke of the importance of character traits like honesty, integrity, compassion, courage and perseverance. She told the graduates she had to be brave to get her license.

“Do you know I did not get my driver’s license until after I started working at Lewiston High School at the age of 42?” Fournier asked.

She explained that growing up, she heard her grandmother and mother, who didn’t drive, talk about how scary driving was, “how they could kill somebody. They did not think as women they’d be able to drive.”

Eventually, her husband encouraged Fournier to get her permit. He took her driving.

“I would repeatedly start crying and pull the car over,” she said. “My fear of driving was debilitating.”

Reluctant to take her driver’s exam, her permits expired again and again.

To get to her teaching job, she rode the bus to school with her sons. When she started teaching science at the high school, her son drove her there until it was time for him to leave high school and go to college.

In 2006, she took her test — and passed.

“Words cannot express how happy I am that I didn’t give up,” Fournier said. “I have been afforded so many wonderful opportunities because I persevered.”

Looking at the graduates, she said they too showed courage and persevered. She encouraged them to tap into that in their future, and to be a good person.

“Hold the door,” Fournier said. “Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Don’t steal. Don’t cheat. Always stay humble and kind.”

After the diplomas were passed out, the graduates marched out to “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons.

There was hearty applause from the audience.

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Lewiston High School August Graduation class

Kerriarna Asselin, Noah Bergeron, Ryan Bixby, Shawna Burch, Maxwell Clarrage, Michael Danforth III, Dillon Donahue, Makayla Gargan, Joshua Gilchrist, Caleb Greeley, Nickolas Harnden, Sare Howes, Muno Ibrahim, Josiah Johnson, Destiney Martinez, Peyton McPherson, Nicholas White and Hyann Willey.

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