Sunday afternoon, June 12, Spruce Mountain High School Class Marshal Jayden Achorn and the band’s percussion section lead the Class of 2022 across Griffin Field in Livermore Falls to begin graduation ceremonies. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

LIVERMORE FALLS — “Although we are small, we are mighty,” Spruce Mountain High School valedictorian Courtney Hogan told her fellow graduates Sunday afternoon, June 12.

Class marshals Owen Dow and Jayden Achorn lead the SMHS Class of 2022 at the beginning of graduation ceremonies held Sunday afternoon, June 12, at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“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. 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.”

Valedictorian Courtney Hogan speaks at Spruce Mountain High School graduation Sunday afternoon, June 12, at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Hogan spoke of her gym family, spending as much time or more with them as her family, and the role models they have been for her.

“Gymnastics has taught me how to be dedicated, determined, resilient, strong, graceful, how to set goals and accomplish them, and how to manage my time to fit in everything that’s of value to me. Most of all gymnastics taught me that if you fall seven times, you get back up eight times.

“The past four years have been a rollercoaster. 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 about the changes brought about by COVID-19 in 2022, how that time was filled with unknowns when answers were wanted, and the lessons she 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. I learned I don’t like change. But most of all I learned to trust the process.

“I cannot wait to see where life takes all of you. Thank you again to … anyone who had a significant impact on us. May we always remember that we are mighty.”

Salutatorian Leah Gilbert speaks during SMHS graduation ceremonies Sunday afternoon, June 12, at Griffin Field in Livermore Falls. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Salutatorian Leah Gilbert said she knew she would be speaking at graduation from a young age.

“Between pages in my hot pink, glittery diary from elementary school, you’ll find … deep in there a page titled: My Graduation Speech,” she 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.

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is show up. You showed up. The first step to success. 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 when 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.”


Gilbert said the journey has shaped the seniors into the people they are today.

“We are stronger, more resilient, and certainly more ready to get the heck out of High School because of it,” she noted. “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, then they will still be there after that. There is always a better tomorrow.”

In his welcoming address SMHS Principal TJ Plourde spoke of the trials and tribulations the seniors had faced, particularly because of COVID-19. “Through it all, you have soldiered on and come out stronger because of those challenges,” he said. “We have experienced exceptional moments, magical moments and have created memories that will be fondly remembered years from now.

“Please be passionate with your aspirations,” Plourde said after referencing a quote from Maya Angelou. “Be compassionate with your family, friends, co-workers, and your leaders. Find humor in all things and do it with style.”

The Spruce Mountain High School band performed and senior Owen Dow was recognized as the only senior going into the armed services. He will serve in the United States Coast Guard.

Superintendent Scott Albert and Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors Chairman Robert Staples congratulated each senior after receiving their diploma.


“As we close today’s ceremony, this will be the last time we all gather,” Gilbert who was also senior class president said. “However, we will always be the Spruce Mountain High School Class of 2022. You have all taught me valuable lessons and shown me the importance of leadership, communication and responsibility. I will take these experiences with me throughout my life.

“The past four years of high school can’t be changed, canceled, forgotten or erased. They can only be accepted for what they were, so let us remember our time together with gratitude.

“Live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence knowing that we have persevered through unprecedented times. A culture of spit, negativity and hostility weighs heavy on the world. A climate that is unfit and damaging to young minds that wish to flourish and have so much to offer.

“Kindness goes a long way, showing up goes a long way. Speaking up goes further. Ignorance has never and will never be the solution to any problem. Not in school and certainly not in the world.

“It is a time of self accountability and a period of reflection. Our lives are too short and too precious to carry the unnecessary weight of anger. That is why tomorrow’s society is depending on us to be our personal best.

“We have the power and responsibility to be a culture of kindness, a place where we all belong, a place where we can all be safe physically, emotionally and socially.

“Take care of others and take care of yourself but look to always find the best in everyone.”

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