AUBURN — Before a single word was spoken to open Saturday’s graduation ceremony, Principal Scott Annear and Assistant Principal Craig Latuscha placed a No. 16 jersey and a guitar at the corner of the stage.

It was a tribute to Matt Closson, the beloved special education teacher who passed away in May.

“This is an evening of joy,” said Annear at the start of the graduation ceremony. “It’s exactly what Matt would have wanted.”

That sense of camaraderie and family hovered over the Edward Little High School ceremony, which took place in front of the hangar at The Auburn-Lewiston Airport due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions on large gatherings.

Valedictorian Storm Jipson told his fellow graduates that while he and the other graduates were the stars of Saturday evening’s event, “we wouldn’t be here without our supporting cast: the people who support us.”

“Look at your life and ask yourself: Who has made your movie great,” Jipson said. “It’s our families, our friends, our teachers.”

“Today, we are each other’s supporting cast,” Jipson continued. “This movie is ending and the credits are rolling. Soon, we’ll be going to college, and it’ll be time to start the sequel. Sequels always get a bad reputation, but with a great supporting cast, it could be even better.”

Salutatorian Caroline Hammond told the Class of 2020 that while the phrase “fake it until you make it” is normally associated with hardship or overcoming obstacles, she sees it as the perfect encapsulation of their career as students.

“It’s something we do everyday,” Hammond said. “With every interaction, we adjust to be the best version of ourselves. We may feel like we’re faking it, but in reality, we’re gaining confidence as we play the part.”

“Before we know it, we’re performing as our true selves,” Hammond said, adding that when she and her fellow graduates start attending college, “we’ll fake it until we make it again.”

“It’s good,” she said, “because we’ve been rehearsing our whole lives.”

Annear described the Class of 2020 as the newest addition to the ELHS family.

“This bond is forever,” Annear said. “We all need to step up to make the place we’re living better together.”

Before the diplomas were handed out, Annear announced to the students that there was a last-minute addition to the agenda: a pre-recorded speech by Jon Vaughn-Carr, who taught career development at Edward Little until he retired in January.

“One of the made-up statistics I tell students is that half of Americans are not really excited about the job they do, and that’s because they’re not following the things they like to do,” Vaughn-Carr said.

Vaughn-Carr, who has been battling cancer, urged the graduates to “embrace your passion, and if you don’t have a passion, go and find one.”

“Opportunities are out there,” he continued. “They’re just hidden in the grass sometimes, and you have to go and dig for them.”

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