Steward stands next to his senior photo. Each senior has a photo displayed in the grass on the upper parking lot of Telstar. Submitted photo

BETHEL — Telstar Senior Jared Steward couldn’t play any April Fools pranks at school this year. There will be no senior prom either, another thing he was looking forward to attending, especially since he enjoys the school dances. But most importantly, he misses his class and friends, who have been there for support when life has thrown him curve balls.

The first one tossed at him came long before high school. In 2012, Steward’s younger sister, Hailey, was diagnosed B-Cell ALL Leukemia. She was only five at the time.

After years of fighting through multiple relapses, Hailey passed away in September of 2017, when Jared was a sophomore.

The last few years without her, and knowing that the “one person that always believed in him,” will not be there to watch him graduate, have been tough on Jared, but with the help of his friends he has been able to persevere.

The 18-year-old has spent all but two years of his schooling at SAD 44.

Steward credits Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG), a Maine non profit that helps high schoolers make the transition to post-secondary education, as one of the main reasons he will be going to college in the fall.

He plans to attend Central Maine Community College in the fall and wants to study Graphic Design.

Outside of JMG, he enjoyed physical education, and calls “Mr. Underhill” the best PE Teacher he has ever had. Steward said he always enjoyed playing sports, but was never competitive, so gym class was more his speed.

Two other teachers, “Mrs. Cordeiro and Mrs. Gordon,” were singled out by Steward.

“They got me to work harder even when I wanted to give up,” he said. “My class and teachers have been what’s helped me move forward and they have made me feel comfortable just being myself.”

His hard work paid off, as he making the Dean’s List last fall.

Work has been a bigger challenge since remote learning has taken over. Steward prefers learning in class, where he can talk to his teachers directly rather than online.

He’s also coping with missed time and memories with friends, something every senior values downs the final stretch of high school.

“These are days we will never get back, it does not seem fair,” Steward said. “There’s nothing normal about not being able to talk or see the very people who helped you get through the years and tough times in your life.”

Steward saying playing online games with his friends has been the best way to stay in touch, but it’s still not the same.

“I will not be able to celebrate all the hard work and all the years of being with all my friends,” he said. “I love all my classmates and I miss being around them. I miss the socialization and simply just joking with them.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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