LEWISTON— The Leavitt Area High School graduating class threw its mortarboards Sunday afternoon toward the ceiling of The Colisée, cheered on by family members from Greene, Leeds and Turner.

During the commencement march, 132 students filed into rows of metal chairs arranged in front of a stage as the Leavitt Concert Band played “Pomp and Circumstance” over the hum of spectator’s voices.

Family members gathered behind the graduates and in the stands. Camera flashes sparkling in the sea of faces.

From behind the stage’s podium, Elliot Misiura, the senior class president, welcomed his classmates, urging them to “take their experiences and use them in (their) next journey.”

Misiura was followed by Principal Eben Shaw, who read the Rudyard Kipling poem “If.” 

The middle of the ceremony was marked by a performance of Steve Hodges’ “Camino del Sol,” by the Leavitt Concert Band, followed by the valedictory speech by Jade Crowell, who extolled the guidance she and her fellow students received from the faculty at Leavitt.


“I’d like to thank all the teachers, family and friends who have helped me and the rest of the graduates on their way throughout high school,” Crowell said.

Hunter Hayes, left, greets his friend and football teammate, Manny Driscoll, during the Leavitt Area High School graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon at The Colisée in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Crowell and salutatorian Chloe Bolduc were among those honored during the presentation of academic recognitions and scholarships, during which students were commended for their attitudes and work ethic in and out of the classroom.

Before diplomas were awarded, the Leavitt Chorus performed “This is Me” (from “The Greatest Showman”). And afterward, the Leavitt Concert Band played the recessional theme as the students exited and were then embraced by family members and friends.

“I think the fact that these guys were able to persevere through so much junk in the world — all the graduating classes everywhere around the country today — it makes them special. They’ll always be known as that,” said Chris Gray, a science teacher and football coach at Leavitt.

“I love them all. Every year, it’s hard. It’s an emotional thing seeing these kids grow up, especially being a member of the community,”

Barbara Knox and her husband drove from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to see their grandson, Philip Almeida, walk across the stage.


“The ceremony was very nice,” she said. “I liked the speeches the graduates made. They were realistic and encouraging.”

“It hasn’t really set in yet, but it feels pretty great,” said graduate Ethan Ricker of Turner, who plans to study computer engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. “It was amazing having everyone here. I’m happy we actually got to do it unlike the class before us.

A group of longtime friends and classmates at Leavitt Area High School get together Sunday afternoon in the lobby of The Colisée in Lewiston before the school’s graduation ceremony. From left: Julia Bernard, Riley Chiasson, Cara Jordan, Cadence McDowell, Bella Keneborus and Emma Chiasson. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“The last two or three classes before us didn’t get to have their graduation, at least not like this, so it was nice.”

“It’s crazy! I didn’t think I’d make it this far, honestly. I didn’t think I’d get past middle school. I think the chorus did well, and so did the band. And all the people who spoke were very well-spoken,” Ricker said, then describing her planned gap year, before embarking on a career in the entertainment industry.

The crowd of graduates and their families spilled out into the parking lot, forming little groups to take photographs against the sharp glare of the sun. A line formed next to a truck from Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause.

Nivea Thibodeau and Cadence Darling stood together, both admittedly feeling unchanged but excited for the future.

“To be honest, it feels the same,” Thibodeau said as Darling nodded.

Added Darling: “It’s kind of exciting, but I don’t feel very different. I can’t wait for college.”

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