By Barry Matulaitis, Staff Editor

JAY — U.S. Sen. Angus King implored graduates of Spruce Mountain Adult & Community Education on Thursday night to take risks and be positive.

“Attitude really is everything,” King said. “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.”

King encouraged graduates to take chances and to not limit themselves.

“It’s OK to fail,” he said.

Being humble is also critical, King said.

“Be honest, even if it hurts,” he said. “Admit when you’re wrong.”

King added: “Never stop learning. I learn new stuff every single day.”

Student speaker Joshua Estabrook said he was honored to have the chance to address his classmates.

“It is a tremendous stepping stone on our journey to secure a better future for ourselves and our families,” he said.

Estabrook recalled that when he was in school, he was unsure of the value of his education.

“Often, teachers would assume I just wasn’t paying attention,” he said. “Thankfully, my rebelliousness didn’t end in serious trouble.”

After several attempts at adult education courses, Estabrook’s son was born. The new father began thinking of a better future for himself and his family.

“When my son was born,” he said, “I had a sense of renewed purpose.”

U.S. Sen. Angus King offers advice to graduates during the Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education graduation ceremony in Jay on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Now, thanks to his renewed determination and the passion and attention provided by the adult education instructors, Estabrook has secured his adult education diploma.

A total of 23 students received diplomas. Four students were inducted into the National Honor Society, while 15 completed certified medical training, and one student completed a legal studies course.

Norman Gordon Sr. of Jay, who graduated Thursday night at age 85, received special recognition, as Rep. Tina Riley, D-Jay, presented him with a legislative sentiment.

Riley noted Gordon had left school early to enlist in the U.S. Army and fight in the Korean War.

Also honored: Heath Greenwald, one of the participants in the College Transition Course, who received the Courage to Grow Award. The award, covers tuition for one three-credit course at Central Maine Community College, is presented to a student who overcomes obstacles and shows exceptional dedication to a college course of study.

Spruce Mountain Adult Education Director Robyn Raymond thanked the community for its involvement in education and encouraging lifelong learning.

“Education is a community effort,” she said. “Our graduates are showing their own children that learning is a lifelong journey.”

Tom Nash, immediate past president of the Coalition of Adult Basic Education, urged the graduates to spread the word about adult education.

“It really is important to share your story,” he said. “I urge all the graduates to think about that. Share your story with others.”

Norman Gordon Sr., 85, of Jay says hello to his friend, Beckie Witham of Wilton before the start of the Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education graduation ceremony in Jay on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

The following students were recognized for their achievements:

HiSET and Adult Education Diploma: Garrett Benedix, Shantel Brochu, Dillan Chicoine, Joshua Estabrook, Mark Floyd, Heather Frost, David Gallant, Norman Gordon, Laci Grant, Amber Greenwood, Morgan Guay, Andrew Hewins, Thorne Hutton, Christopher Lishness, Joseph Marcotte, Patience Merchant, Mykayla Pfost, Bradine Robbins, Raeanna Sawyer, Audrey Smiley, Gage Welch, Everett Wright, Stephon York.

National Honor Society students: Anna Crockett, Joseph Marcotte, Carol Palmer, Brandon Wyly.

Certified Medical Training: Kim Ceder, Melissa Couture, Makayla Durant, Alisa Forst, Jordan Gaboury, Kasey Gaboury, Jake Hanstein, Nicole Lake, Meghan Moore, Cheyenne Neidlinger, Samantha Nevedomsky, Deborah Pratt, Amanda Swiney, Stephanie Thorne, Lauren Tranten.

Legal Studies: Marie Blessing

College Transition Participants: Adrienne Childs, Gabrielle Edwards, Alisa Frost, Heath Greenwald, Chestine Howard, Colleen Litalien, Martin McGimpsey, Mozart Oliveira, Calli Pomerleau, Bradine Robbins, Emelda Smalley, William Sprague, Michael Staples, Catherine Thurlow, Thomas Valeriani, Kaitlyn Williams.

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Kasey Gaboury, right, gets a hug from her “best friend” Ayla Haines before the start of the Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education graduation ceremony in Jay on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)