LEWISTON — While many are getting ready to go back to school, 18 students graduated Monday night during Lewiston High School’s annual August commencement.

The graduation gives seniors two additional months to complete work to graduate as members of the Class of 2017.

Held at The Green Ladle at Lewiston Regional Technical Center, the ceremony had the feeling of a traditional high school graduation: blue and white caps and gowns, parents tearing up, friends holding phones to photograph graduates.

For some, the ceremony had a bit more pride and joy, compared to the June graduation. These students could have quit, but they overcame whatever challenge was in front of them and persevered, Superintendent Bill Webster said.

Keynote speaker Bernie Fortier, a veteran Lewiston High School teacher who is an instructor at the Lewiston Academy alternative program, said many students have shared their stories with him.

Looking at the graduates, he said life has not been easy or kind for many of them.


“Some of you have struggled with poverty and homelessness, never knowing where you would sleep from night to night. Some of you have experienced hunger on a regular basis,” he said.

Others have had their family and personal lives shattered by drug addiction, alcoholism, abuse, or have had serious health issues.

Some struggled with school, have been bullied or dealt with racism and hatred.

Despite that, “you are here tonight because you are resilient. You never gave up … I am so proud of you,” Fortier said.

Incoming Principal Jake Langlais also told the graduates the audience “is proud of you” for reaching big milestone and earning a diploma.

The second keynote speaker was graduate Xavier Knox, 18.


“To my fellow peers, we did it!” Knox said. “It may have taken us a little longer. Some of us decided to stop and enjoy the scenery. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment you know,” he said to laughter.

He recalled his high school years, including getting lost in the halls his freshman year.

“You know what made that year amazing? The food,” he said. “I’m a sandwich guy. The people at the deli were just amazing. Always smiling. It made life so much better,” he said.

His sophomore year he was a bit more comfortable, “a bit cocky too.” His junior year he studied automotive at LRTC and took night classes. Senior year flew by with good friends and teachers.

“I had an amazing year thanks to Mr. Parker and all the other teachers in my life,” Knox said.

Even though only 16 graduates marched, The Green Ladle was packed.


In addition to family and friends, teachers showed up to cheer on their students.

Guidance counselor Pete Hutchinson gave high-fives as his students marched by. Thrilled to see Abdiaziz Hussein graduate, he gave Hussein a hug.

“He’s been through a lot, a lot of personal stuff. He missed a lot of school,” Hutchinson said. “He’s really a bright kid. I’m excited that he’s talking about going to community college.”

When Assistant Principal Jay Dufour presented the Class of 2017 near the end of the ceremony, the audience cheered. Graduates got a standing ovation.

Afterward, Hussein was all smiles. The night “means the world to me,” he said.

He and the others have big plans.


“The world’s going to be mine,” Hussein said, adding he wants to become an entrepreneur. 

Alicia Alimandi, 18, said she plans to attend Central Maine Community College in Auburn to become a nurse.

Bailey Spurr, 18, plans to work for a year then go to college.

Xavier Knox said religion has always fascinated him. After years of studying and training, “I’m going to become a priest,” he said.

Arbai Abdi’s 2-year-old brother, Yusuf, runs back to mom after making his way over to his sister, right, during the Lewiston High School August graduation on Monday. Abdi is one of 16 graduates who marched during exercises at the Green Ladle. 

Lewiston High School graduates, from left, Jenna Doucette, Olivia Bailey, Arbai Abdi, Logan Brown, Bailey Spurr, Alicia Alimandi and Xavier Knox line up prior to the start of August graduation on Monday. Sixteen graduates marched during exercises at the Green Ladle, while a total of 18 graduated.

Abdiaziz Hussein, left, acknowledges Xavier Knox after Knox gave the student address during Lewiston High School August graduation on Monday. 

Lewiston High School teacher Bernard Fortier gets a hug from graduate Abdiaziz Hussein during the Lewiston High School August graduation on Monday. Fortier gave the keynote address. 

Arbai Abdi celebrates with family after graduating from Lewiston High School on Monday. 

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