POLAND — The 18th graduating class of Poland Regional High School was sent off with music, laughter and traditional speeches at their 4 p.m. ceremony Saturday. 

The school gym was packed with families and friends to see loved ones walk across the stage to receive a diploma and take that step into the next chapter of their lives. 

The Senior Singers performed the national anthem and “Caledonia,” a Scottish folk song.

Salutatorian Sigrid Sibley sang “The Call” by Regina Spektor, and Hannah Kwasnick sang “So Long Goodbye” by Sum 41. 

Superintendent Tina Meserve posed a challenge to the graduates.

“We reward and encourage conformity in our society, or schools and in our homes,” she said, and asked how we do that while still being unique and strong individuals.

“I hope you will become exactly what you were meant to be,” she said, “but I also hope that you’ll become more. I hope you’ll become an independent thinker.” 

Keynote speaker Timothy Wilson spoke about his experiences as the first black teacher hired in secondary education in the state in 1966 in Dexter. After a few years, the University of Maine in Orono asked him to work at the university. 

Wilson was also the first black counselor at Camp Powhatan in Otisfield in 1960. It’s now Seeds of Peace International Camp and he’s its special adviser. He’s been with the organization since its founding in 1993. 

He has more than 50 years of experience in education, coaching and public service. He’s served in the Peace Corps, was a language arts teacher and successful football coach at the University of Maine in Orono, and chairman of the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Wilson shared with the graduates some of the wisdom he’s learned over his storied career. 

“Respect, communication and trust,” Wilson said. “Learn to use those three things in what you do every day. Learn how to talk to people and learn to listen to people.

“Do the best you can with what you’ve got,” he said. “Give it your best shot. Be the best human being that you can be.”

Valedictorian Allison Emery shared her own bit of advice. “In case no one else tells you today, I am very proud of you and all the setbacks you have taken head-on.

“The things we say whether we really mean them or not do impact those around us,” she said. “When you walk out these doors, be kind to others — even if you don’t want to. We breathe the same air and walk the same ground. Hatred will not serve you well in the world. Address difference with tolerance.

“I congratulate you all on making it to today,” she said. 

Salutatorian Sigrid Sibley thanked her classmates, some of whom she’s been in school with since prekindergarten.

“I want to share some of the important lessons you have taught me — to work hard and strive for my goals this class is full of dedicated athletes, artists, actors and intellectuals,” Sibley said. 

“Each and every one of you has inspired me to work harder, dream bigger and achieve more,” Sibley said. “As we take this leap into the future, I hope you find something you’re passionate about. Give your life meaning by dedicating it to something you love.” 

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Poland Regional High School senior Allison Kelly is framed by mortarboards of friends as the Class of 2017 lines up to march into the gymnasium for the school’s graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon.

Poland Regional High School senior Trystan Sanborn hams it up with friends as the Class of 2017 lines up prior to filing into the school gymnasium for graduation exercises on Saturday afternoon.

Poland Regional High School seniors get rowdy as the Class of 2017 begins its procession into the school gymnasium Saturday afternoon.

Allison Emery, right, valedictorian of the Class of 2017 at Poland Regional High School, and her friend, Katie Petrie, prepare to lead the procession into the school gymnasium for commencement exercises Saturday afternoon.

The majority of seniors at Poland Regional High School decorated their mortarboards for their graduation Saturday afternoon in Poland.

Senior Awards

• Character Award: Jordan Lloyd

• Citizenship Award: Madison Simard

• Community Award: Allison Emery

Faculty Awards

• King Arthur Award: Quinn Ferguson

• Merlin Award: Elizabeth Champagne and Max Smith-Taylor

• Sir Kay Award: Julia Bernard

• Sir Lancelot Award: Spencer Davis and Jennifer Hemond

• Sir Lucan Award: Sigrid Sibley

• Sir Percival Award: Kurtis Leighton

• Principal’s Award: Allison Emery

• Western Maine Conference Citizenship Award: Quinn Ferguson and Victoria Tibbetts


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