Rebecca Dennison of Farmington, Dean of the program, welcomes Threshold graduating class of 2020 Submitted photo

REGION — The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences’ Threshold program graduated 19 students on Friday evening June 17 in the School’s parking lot and back lawn. Threshold is a remote learning High School Diploma program of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences. This year’s class of 19 Threshold graduates was the largest in the three years that MeANS has offered the home based program. Threshold has grown from two teachers and 20 students in 2018 to six teachers and 60 students.

As families sat in cars and graduates wearing screen printed masks that read “2020 MeANS graduate” sat in chairs 6 ft. apart on the lawn in front of them, the ceremony was a time of celebration.

This year’s student speaker was Shakti Das Lescault from Industry. After thanking family, friends, and teachers for always believing in him even when he doubted himself, Lescault shared these words; “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams and when a teacher or someone close to you tells you that you have the potential to be whatever you want to be, believe them, it’s all up to you!”

Other speakers at the Threshold graduation were Rebecca Dennison, Dean of the program and Emanuel Pariser, program advisor.

Dennison spoke of the school’s guiding principles of Respect, Responsibility, and Community, “These words that are here to remind us of the respect and responsibility that we all must have for our communities…. The hope is that we not only remember these words of respect, responsibility, and community throughout our lives, but that we also choose to put these words into action every day.” Dennison encouraged graduates and families to get the word out about Threshold for the coming year as slots in the program are still available.

Pariser spoke of the unusual circumstances of this year’s graduation and of the amazing achievement of the current cohort of graduates, who “literally have made it through some of the toughest moments in our country’s history to complete their diplomas!” He then invited families to “honk your appreciation for Paige, Grant, Thomas, Davida, Jordan, Lennon, Alecia, Daisy, Dalton, Shakti Das, Mackenzie, Brooklyn, Natalie, Wyatt, Liam, Patricia, Rodney, Alissa, and Alivia now.” …..”You graduates have proved the value of perseverance and of believing in yourself. You have overcome your own self doubt, and the challenges each day presented you.” Pariser also reminded graduates, “wherever you go, whatever you do, please remember you have support here at MeANS.”

Graduate Alissa Smith from Madison was this year’s recipient of the George J. Mitchell scholarship, which contributes a total of $10,000 towards her college education. Smith has been accepted to attend UMF this Fall. Natalie Nickerson of Palmyra was awarded the Maine Community College scholarship. Nickerson will be attending KVCC this Fall.

With the presentation of diplomas by Matt Newberg, Maine Academy of Natural Sciences Head of School, each graduate crossed the temporary stage with family and friends roundly noting their appreciation through honking and beeping. This year’s graduates are from the towns of: Industry, Wilton, Waterville, Madison, Skowhegan, Palmyra, Unity, Fairfield, Norridgewock, Starks, Solon, Bangor, Sidney and Benton.

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