Kristina Wilson, OHCHS 2019 Salutatorian

Good evening everyone.

First, I would like to congratulate every graduate here today, as well as all the people who have enabled us to be here. Without all of you, none of us would have reached this significant turning point in our lives, able to embrace a future full of possibilities. For that, I would like to say thank you on behalf of the class of 2019.

So, I was thinking the other day about what makes our class unique, and the first thing that came to my mind is that we’ve kind of been the guinea pig class. Think about it, as middle schoolers we were the first class to have Quest, as freshman we were the first class to have mentors, and as sophomores we experienced an ever-changing grading system. And you know what? I think that we handled all of those surprises quite well.

Over the span of our education, we have learned how to take things in stride. We learned how to gracefully adjust to switching teachers, and even campuses. We learned how to openly have faith in our mentors and even took the risk of dancing with them on our very first day of high school.

And through all of these changes, irritating as they were, we have learned to accept what I call the “messiness of life.” Through this practice of accepting life’s unexpected turns and pushing on, we have, in my opinion, learned one of the most important skills in adult life.


In my own life, one person exemplifies the importance of this skill. Third in the Oxford Hills Class of 1983, my mother was involved with many organizations when she was in high school: Math Team, National Honor Society, and French Club. During her senior year of high school, my mom expressed her ambitions to be a first generation college student and study pharmacology at the University of Rhode Island.

However, life and its many surprises did not take her down that path. Instead, she found herself a mother and wife at the age of 19. Don’t be mistaken; this woman does not need your sympathy. While she did not attend college after high school, she devoted herself to being a mother to her son and advancing in a career that developed into one of her greatest passions. From another surprise in her life, my mother eventually married my father, with whom she would go on to have two daughters, the youngest is standing before you today.

My mother is the strongest person I know, ever since I was little, she has always exemplified how beautiful life’s surprises can be if you learn how to embrace them and take them in stride. She has built a happy life full of love and peace through her unbelievable ability to accept life’s surprises. I can only hope to have half as much resilience as she has.

One particular instance in which I could practice this skill came quite recently, when I was receiving my college acceptance letters. How many of you didn’t get accepted into your ultimate dream school? I know.

I didn’t. My dream school was George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the only school that I applied to that offered Global Public Health. Even after I stayed on the wait list, I was ultimately rejected. I couldn’t understand it. I had been accepted at Bowdoin, a much more selective school. With this painful rejection and major disruption to my plans, I had to reevaluate what I wanted from my college experience.

I had never planned on attending the University of Maine Orono until recently, but the large university campus with its broad offerings proved a better fit than Bowdoin. So I am somewhat grateful that I was rejected by George Washington because that rejection led to reflection, from which I discovered my authentic desire to learn amongst the “messiness of life” at a large, public university.


There is a line from one of my favorite movies called “Amelie” – which I would totally recommend to any of you who haven’t seen it – that says, “Your bones aren’t made of glass. You can take life’s knocks.” I believe that this is true for the Class of 2019. The very year number of our graduating class signifies change. We are the last class to graduate before the 2020s begin; we are literally the class on the cusp of change.

We always have been. Our class has been the one to fearlessly march on through all of the surprises that life has brought us. We are the ones who have proven whether or not various new programs work, and over the years we have learned how to do so with little fuss. It may not seem like it now, but our ability to take everything in stride is essential to succeeding and finding happiness in the world that we live in.

I’ve noticed that the people who are truly happy with life are the ones who are able to embrace the unexpected. Therefore, I challenge all of you to hold on to our shared ability of embracing life’s surprises.

If you find that after one semester of classes that you want to change your major, change your major. Or, if you find that your job isn’t as amazing as you first thought it would be, change your job. I am not saying we shouldn’t make plans or set goals, just that you should not feel like your entire life is falling apart because everything is not going to plan. As one of every AP Lit student’s favorite novels says, “Things fall apart.” I’m guessing that most people here would agree that their original plan when they graduated high school has held to this rule, but not for the worst.

Things may fall apart, but part of living and being a successful human being is learning how to pick up the pieces and make something that is even better than the original, hence embracing the messiness of life like the dear old friend that it is, and always will be.

Thank you.


William Dieterich, OHCHS 2019 Valedictorian

Good evening Oxford Hills.

It’s such an honor to stand before you. It seems like yesterday we were incoming freshmen meeting our mentors for the first time, but it was four years ago, and tonight ends our shared high school experience, so I would like to start by thanking those who have made my journey so special, not just in my four years of high school, but my entire time growing up in the Oxford Hills.

First to the community, all of us graduating tonight have been blessed to grow up in this area, even if we are still too young to truly appreciate the hard work so many of you have put in to make Oxford Hills a special place. You care about the success of the youth in this community as evidenced by your spectacular generosity on Class Night. I never feel unwelcome here and no matter where I end up in life, home will forever be Oxford Hills. Thank you all.

To my coaches and teachers, you have worked hard making me better, not only in the classroom and on the field, but I have become a better man due to your guidance and wisdom. Thank you so much for the many times you have gone above and beyond to help me. Mr. Gerry, the last seven years of having you as a math teacher have been both enriching and a blast. You always challenged me, supported me, and offered me guidance. You are the most genuine, nicest and overall best person I have ever met and I consider myself truly privileged to have been your pupil.

To my teammates, you guys have been there for me when I needed you both on the field and off. I love you guys.


Finally, like many of you, I owe most of why I am here to my family. To my siblings, despite all our petty fights that drive our parents crazy, I love you guys so much. Mom and Dad, you have made so many sacrifices for me over the last 18 years, molded me into who I am today and everything I will be in the future. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done, and your love means so much to me.

All these thank you’s makes it feel like the end, which to our high school careers it is. It’s the end of 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. classes, the end of high school sports and clubs, and for some, the end of academics entirely. But really, graduation marks more beginnings than endings, and with beginnings, come new
opportunities and adventures.

Tonight is the beginning of our adult lives. Some of us will further our education in college. Some will enter the workforce. We even have a few peers who have honored our community by enlisting in the armed forces. After tonight our paths will diverge. Some may leave and never return to Oxford Hills, while others may choose to make their lives here. Wherever life leads us we share the goal of taking the next steps forward in responsibility and maturity.

As we enter into the next chapter of our lives I’d like to share a little of the wisdom that I’ve been taught over the last 18 years.

First, have fun. Even if you have to get work done, find a way to have fun. There is no better example of this than our ping pong posse in Mr. Roy’s AP Physics, where we would take a break in our double blocked class to get a little crazy. So plan and work for the future, but don’t forget to have fun in the here and now.

Secondly, as we each leave to fulfill our chosen vocations, never forget that initial excitement and passion. Everyone has to work and sometimes it can be a tough grind, but don’t let that stop you from taking pride in your work. Whatever you choose to do with your life, whether you are a mechanic or nuclear physicist, put your heart and soul into it.

There are no better examples of this than Mr. Gerry’s decades of dedication to our math team or Coach O’s rigorous basketball practices, which, while they may have been extremely physically exerting and required us to give our heart and soul into every drill, they helped us have a successful season on the court.

Third, the power of family and great relationships with people can have a profound effect upon your success in life. Find those who appreciate you and are truly there for you when you need them. I have never played on a team as closely knit as this year’s baseball team and it’s no coincidence that this is easily the best team I have ever played on. The power of brotherhood and our mutual love for each other, complements and fuels our physical talents, drive, and passion for the game. I will miss my teammates immensely next year.

So in closing, the experiences I have had at Oxford Hills have taught me a variety of lessons. Lessons I will be able to apply in college, the workforce and every other part of my life. It’s been a great ride since we all started in kindergarten in the various corners of our communities 13 years ago. I wish you all the best of luck and thank you for being a part of my experience. Remember, once a Viking, always a Viking.

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