Valedictorian Courtney Hogan speaks Sunday afternoon during the Spruce Mountain High School graduation ceremony at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

LIVERMORE FALLS — Valedictorian Courtney Hogan offered a proud message Sunday afternoon to her fellow graduates of Spruce Mountain High School.

“Although we are small, we are mighty,” Hogan said. “Every single one of you, no matter what your life has looked like up until this point, is capable of doing amazing, amazing things because you are mighty. You can make your life whatever you want it to be.”

She added: “You can make a difference in this world. Graduating high school is something that we’ve looked forward to, whether with excitement, fear, anxiety or a combination of it all, and we are finally here.

“The past four years have been a roller coaster. It’s been scary, thrilling, exciting, and full of ups and downs. Sometimes I felt like I was going to throw up, sometimes I didn’t know if I was laughing or crying, and sometimes I had to laugh so I didn’t cry.”

Hogan spoke of the changes brought about by COVID-19 and the lessons she has learned.

“I learned to appreciate each day I am given,” she said. “I learned to not take anything for granted, as it can be taken away in the blink of an eye. But most of all, I learned to trust the process.


“I cannot wait to see where life takes all of you. May we always remember that we are mighty.”

Class marshals Owen Dow and Jayden Achorn lead the Spruce Mountain High School Class of 2022 to its seats Sunday afternoon during the graduation ceremony at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

In her speech, salutatorian Leah Gilbert said: “I knew that to find success, it would not be handed to me. It would be achieved through an accumulation of showing up, showing kindness and always believing there would be a better tomorrow.

“Looking back, our senior year has been our first full year of high school since we were freshmen. The pandemic has certainly greatly affected our class; however, it does not define it. You can be proud to say that with only two full years of in-person learning, you have pushed yourself to earn that diploma.”

Gilbert urged her classmates from the high school in Jay to continue charting their courses toward success.

“Sometimes, the bravest and most important thing you can do is show up. You showed up — the first step to success,” she said. “You believed in yourself enough to keep going and not only reach that milestone, but excel in a moment in the world when we didn’t know the next time we would be pulled out of school, or lose a sports season, or have to plug back into a computer screen.

“You still made the choice to work harder when others gave up. You showed up. Continue to show up, not only for yourself, but for others.”


Salutatorian Leah Gilbert speaks Sunday afternoon at the Spruce Mountain High School graduation ceremony at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Gilbert continued: “I have been driven by the belief that there is always a better tomorrow. There is so much more in the world to offer than high school. So go. Go explore and learn and work and love and laugh and show gratitude.

“Cherish these memories, but do not make high school the best four years of your life, because the best years are yet to come. There is always a better tomorrow.”

In his address, Principal TJ Plourde said the seniors soldiered on and came out stronger because of the challenges created by COVID-19.

“We have experienced exceptional moments, magical moments, and have created memories that will be fondly remembered years from now,” he said. “Please be passionate with your aspirations. Be compassionate with your family, friends, co-workers and your leaders. Find humor in all things, and do it with style.”

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