LISBON — As Lisbon High School seniors gathered Sunday morning in the cafeteria before their graduation ceremony, they expressed optimism about what comes next, even if they must say goodbye to certain people and things.

“It’s going to be a little sad. I won’t see probably 75 percent of these people ever again — for like 10 more years,” Cole Bolduc said. “But hey, you got to do it.”

“It’s kind of unsettling that today means the end of our high school careers,” Blake Quatrano said. “But it’s kind of the start of the rest of our lives.

“You’re kind of cradled in high school. But we’re going off to college and it’s kind of like independence and we have to figure out life on our own. It’s kind of unsettling but it’s pretty cool that we get a new adventure at the same time.”

With a small graduating class of 79 students, some of the seniors compared their class to a family. In fact, many of them have journeyed through school together since entering kindergarten a dozen years ago.

“I mean, we’ve been with the same group of kids for so long, same friend groups,” Mikaylia Harnden said, “and now we have to make all new friends, just like kindergarten again.”

Those bonds have only grown tighter as graduation day approached, Quatrano said.

“We just got close this year,” he said. “We knew all of each other, but we really didn’t get close until the day got closer, and I feel like we’ll always have that connection. We’ll have something where we can always come home to.”

The end of high school also marks the start of new responsibilities beyond homework and grades, according to Dakota McIver.

“I don’t know, I’ve been working in the workforce for a little while and it’s not too bad, but it’s a little scary going on, getting more bills and stuff like that,” McIver said. “But I’m pretty excited to move forward, and I know everybody else is excited also.”

That theme of optimism carried through the graduation ceremony, held at the school gymnasium. Class speaker Bradley Harriman captured that feeling during his brief remarks.

“Today, high school turns from present to past, and we look forward,” Harriman said. “Among us, we have engineers, nurses, pharmacists and even a lumberjack. We all have some sort of driving force.

“Sometimes it takes a little digging to find, sometimes it seemingly comes out of nowhere and hits you like a truck. My driving force is dreams. We all have dreams — some big, some small and anywhere in between. I believe that dreams are the most important because they’re the only thing that relies on just you.”

Fellow class speaker Jonah Sautter encouraged his classmates to be “your most perfect you,” warts and all.

“We’ve faced the realization that nothing we ever do will ever be perfect,” Sautter said. “These moments that we find out that we are not the perfect self that we expected ourselves to be can be challenging. They can leave use with doubt, questioning our own self worth.

“Instead of trying to achieve perfection, I challenge you to redefine it, and understand that the perfect you holds far more failures than it does success. It’s those very failures that will drive you to do better, to be better.”

Lisbon High School seniors stand Sunday morning during their graduation ceremony. (Nathan Strout/The Times Record)

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