Grace Bell, vice president of the class of 2022, leads the student processional Sunday morning at the start of Mt. Blue High School’s 52nd commencement at Caldwell Field in Farmington. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Joy and hope for the future were infectious Sunday morning at Mt. Blue High School’s 52nd commencement in Farmington, with 150 seniors graduating at Caldwell Field.

In a time of unceasing change, members of the class of 2022 were encouraged to face their fears, embrace an unpredictable future and life’s challenges and live in the moment.

The graduation ceremony featured speeches by Principal Monique Poulin and students Joshua Smith, the valedictorian, Grace Bell, the senior class vice president, and Evan Lowell.

Poulin began by offering thanks to students, parents, families and “all involved in helping to educate our seniors along the way” from kindergarten to graduation day.

“You have all faced trials and losses (and) celebrated achievements small and large, and on this special day, we honor and recognize your perseverance and your successes,” Poulin said. “Life hands us challenges every day, and it also hands us joy. The balance of the two is what we have experienced over the past several years, and you, our graduates, have risen daily to all that has landed before you.”

Poulin offered graduates a few pieces of advice: “‘Be kinder than necessary at every turn.’ ‘Be your best self.’ And ‘Carpe diem, seize the day’ today and all days before you.”


As valedictorian, Smith spoke to “how challenging it is to live in the moment, fully … (because) the nerves and the excitement stop us from comprehending its beauty.”

Smith encouraged his fellow graduates to “cherish what you have accomplished, treasure those who have helped you get to this moment and make today and every day your favorite day.”

“We cannot rewrite the past, and I do not know where you all will end up in the future, but I can tell you that today is special and all todays are special,” he said. “Let’s live in the moment right now. Look around and feel this accomplishment and be proud.”

Emily Holmes, right, hugs her aunt, Lisa Holmes, following Mt. Blue High School’s 52nd commencement Sunday morning at Caldwell Field in Farmington. With tears, Tammy Holmes, far left, says her daughter, Emily, is set to attend St. Joseph’s College in Standish under a Presidential Scholarship. Emily “really worked heard to get there,” her mother says. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Bell began her speech by quoting from Disney’s “Ratatouille”: “The only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.”

Bell spoke of how she, as a freshman, thought “the only way to succeed” was to preplan her entire high school career and live “within a box.”

“Looking back, I can now see that all my greatest accomplishments have either come from moments of extreme discomfort, where I pushed myself towards what made me unsure, or when I went down the path that I knew would challenge me, rather than staying comfortable and within a realm that I could handle,” she said.


Bell advised her classmates to “embrace the unpredictability of the future, understanding and acknowledging that we will fail — and that is 100% OK.”

“There is nothing wrong with falling short,” she said. “What is important is how we embrace those challenges. We must live in spite of what scares us, in spite of those moments in which our dreams do not become a reality.

Lowell, the last student to speak, echoed thoughts about life’s uncertainties and fighting fear of the future.

Expanding on Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes,” Lowell said he believes “uncertainty is more important in a person’s life than anything else.”

“Uncertainty makes us who we are,” he said. “Uncertainty provides us with a moral crossroad, where the only choices are to break out and face your fears or shut down. No matter which track you take, the train will go forward. This is because uncertainty comes with every decision and action we make throughout our lives.”

Lowell advised that the Mt. Blue Class of 2022 take life into its own hands and think about the choices that “will build the world around you and push back against the fear that limits how you can live your life.”


“Fear is always going to be a part of life,” he said said. “The only thing you can control is how you manage it.”

Hope Chernesky, Auley Romanyshyn, Brynne Robbins, Shaylynn Koban, Tomas Cundick, Sameul Judkins, Alex Hardy and Emma Charles, members of the Mt. Blue High School orchestra, deliver a lively rendition Sunday morning of “Wizard’s Walk,” by Jay Ungar, during the school’s 52nd commencement at Caldwell Field in Farmington. The students dedicated the performance to Mt. Blue orchestra teacher and Franklin County Fiddlers founder Steve Muise, “without whom none of us would be here.” Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Students also gave musical performances between the speeches.

Grace Bell, Sadie McDonough and Zinnia James performed Phoebe Bridgers’ “Graceland Too,” with the fitting lyrics: “She could do anything she wants to, she could do whatever she wants to do. … Doesn’t know what she wants, or what she’s gonna do, a rebel without a clue.”

Hope Chernesky, Auley Romanyshyn, Brynne Robbins, Shaylynn Koban, Tomas Cundick, Sameul Judkins, Alex Hardy and Emma Charles, members of the school’s orchestra, delivered a lively rendition of “Wizard’s Walk,” by Jay Ungar.

Playing guitars, a cello, an accordion and fiddles, the students dedicated the second performance to orchestra teacher and Franklin County Fiddlers founder Steve Muise, “without whom none of us would be here today.”

Following the speeches and performances, the 150 students received their diplomas or, for eight international students, certificates of attendance.

The class of 2022 includes 24 students who graduated cum laude, seven magna cum laude and six summa cum laude, the highest academic distinction.

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