RUMFORD — Four high school seniors were awarded scholarships in the River Valley Senior Time Capsule video contest in which they shared their thoughts on distance learning and lessons from the coronavirus pandemic.

Organized by Gary Dolloff, director of the Greater Rumford Community Center, the contest was an opportunity for students from Buckfield, Dixfield and Rumford high schools to record their thoughts via Facebook videos. Dolloff, Miki Skehan, Bev Soucy, Cheryl Dickson and Melissa Harding judges the entries.

Sharing $650 in scholarships were: Megan Turcotte of Buckfield Junior-Senior High School $300; Katie Morse, Dirigo High School in Dixfield, $200; Allan Hagen, Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, $100; and Avery Sevigny, Mountain Valley High School, $50.

Avery Sevigny, Mountain Valley High School Submitted photo

Sevigny said she never realized how much she was going to miss school, her friends and her teachers.

“I didn’t realize how important relationships were. Just saying ‘hi’ to someone outside, and talking to people other than just your family members. We need that,” she said.

She said she’s never going to take anything for granted again.

“It’s crazy how fast things can change. In a blink of an eye, we were not allowed to leave our house or see our friends.”

She said she’s been calling and checking with her grandmother a few times a week “because she’s really afraid of this whole thing. She doesn’t want to go outside, so we’ve been doing grocery shopping and everything for her. And I’ve been checking in on a few other older people that I’m closer to. I think if everyone in our community could do that, we’d be way better off.”

Sevigny said she’s trying to stay positive despite all the negative happenings.

“Even though we lost graduation, prom, like everything, we need to put things into perspective because at least we’re not losing our loved ones,” she said. Although quarantine may suck, I’d rather stay in my house a few months than lose my grandmother or someone else in my family that’s high risk, or someone that I know. I just don’t want that to happen.”

Hagen said he’s learned to be more patient and appreciate what he has.

Allan Hagen, Mountain Valley High School Submitted photo

“I’ve learned to be patient and wait for things that are going to come,” he said. “Good things will come if I just be patient and wait.

“I learned that it is key to get close with family and to enjoy the little bit of time that we have,” he said.

He’s also building a crib for his daughter who is due to be born in June.

“And I’ve learned to bake cakes, how to clean my house better and to cook food better,” he said.

Hagen said it’s important to listen what the government is saying, to make sure everybody stays in a safe environment so this pandemic can be done as quick as possible.

“If they don’t follow the guidelines, it will take a lot longer for this to be over,” he said.

Morse said she misses her friends and playing sports. When the pandemic hit, she was preparing for softball, her favorite sport. To not get the last season really hits home, she said.

“That’s the biggest upset for me, not getting these last moments with my classmates, who I’ve been with for my whole life,” she said.

Katie Morse, Dirigo High School Submitted photo

During this quarantine, she said, “I’ve played softball in the field all the time and go hit balls. I’ve been doing karaoke and I’ve played my ukelele. I’ve been trying to pick up new hobbies because I’ve nothing else to do.”

And she’s been trying to stay on top of her schoolwork.

“The coronavirus taught me not to take anything for granted because you never know what tomorrow’s going to bring,” Morse said. “This has taught me that in the future to not look past anything. To always live in the moment and enjoy my time with people, and to meet new people. And to just explore, because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Turcotte said the coronavirus pandemic has shown her that Maine is not just a state, but a community.

“People have volunteered their time to sew masks, teachers have rearranged curriculums and spent countless hours making remote learning possible for their students,” she said. “Grocery store employees have been deemed essential and have been risking their health, as well as their family’s health, to ensure that we have food on our tables.”

Turcotte said she’s seen Tilton’s Market in Buckfield offering to bring groceries to people’s vehicles.

Megan Turcotte, Buckfield Junior-Senior High School Submitted photo

“I’m extremely proud of our tight-knit community and how we have all come together,” she said.

She plans to help others also by becoming a nurse.

“These times have just solidified that I want to help people,” Turcotte said. “Lots of people have asked me if this scares me from being a nurse, but actually it makes me more excited.”

Lessons she’s learned include never taking anything for granted and being content with what she has.

“Most important, this pandemic has taught me a resilience and how strong we truly are,” Turcotte said. “And that, when we work together, we can get through anything.”

The winning videos can be viewed at:

The scholarships were made possible by Rumford businesses Brookfield Renewable, Gatch’s Food & Spirits and Advantage Insurance, and several individuals.

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