OHCHS Commencement Speaker Jared Cash (center) is accompanied by retiring Principal Ted Moccia and incoming Principal and current OHTS Director Paul Bickford as he enters the ceremony at graduation Saturday night at Gouin Complex in South Paris. Brewster Burns photo

PARIS — Going back at least a decade, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School has a tradition of inviting one of its own back to deliver a graduation commencement speech every June. Often it is an alumnus who has taken root in other parts of the country as they follow their career and personal paths.

For the past two years glamour has been the trend, with actors Allyssa Brooke (Stranger Things) and Matt Delameter (The Tender Bar) giving the commencement address.

Other years have featured graduates making their mark in business, at companies like Yahoo and the Oprah Winfrey Network; in fields of service like legal aid and medicine; and award-winning journalists.

In 2022 the key note commencement was given not just by an OHCHS graduate, but one who has dedicated his career to public education and planted himself in the town he grew up in.

That would be Jared Cash, OHCHS alumnus, first-gen college graduate, official at public and private colleges and universities in Maine and current president and CEO of the Mitchell Institute.

Cash has close ties to local education as well. He has represented Norway on Maine Administrative School District 17’s board of directors since 2011, serving as vice-chair for the last year.


Cash’s advice for OHCHS’ 2022 graduates was based on walking the same hallways, learning from many of the same educators and pondering post-high school education and opportunities as they have and will face.

“I have given remarks to a good number of assemblies over my career,” Cash told seniors, who were moments away from receiving their high school diplomas. “But there is no place like home – that really calls upon my heart in what I wish to share.”

Cash recalled how he grew up in the very neighborhood surrounding Gouin Field where they gathered for graduation. So acquainted with the local environment was he, that as he described childhood memories of the athletic field the lights around it began flickering on, as if on cue.

He also referred to one of his first school heroes, bus driver Sandy Weston, who never failed to greet him with a smile as he started each school day.

Cash talked of one of his OHCHS classmates, Benjamin Wood, who in his salutatorian address back in 2000 forecast the rise of “hand-held devices” that would supplant familiar face-to-face connections with instant connections across the internet.

“This was a time when cell phones were at flip phones, and texting cost 25 cents per message,” Cash said.  “Facebook wasn’t a thing yet – we had AOL Instant Messenger on desktop computers that were driven by dial-up networks – ‘you can YouTube it’ which was also not existent at that time.”


Cash then offered seniors some simple advice to take with them to their new life chapters.

“Seek out people who have different life experiences and most importantly, hold viewpoints, interests, and talents that vary from yours,” he said. “There is no question that this growing world you are joining will present to you new cultures and traditions, value systems, and ways of approaching the world that differ from your own.”

Cash also urged them to focus on giving and receiving, which includes the gift of listening to others, something he acknowledged is not easy and takes hard work. He told the graduates that a crucial skill in career advancement is the ability to listen.

Finally, Cash described the value of trusting in others.

“Know when to speak up and ask for help,” he said. “Your drive and capabilities are commendable but knowing what you don’t know – and seeking others for help – is key to navigating new places and knowledge.”

Cash closed out his key note address by encouraging the graduates to keep the milestone of their final moments as students of Oxford Hills with them through their future phases of life.

“Class of 2022, let’s take a moment to acknowledge everything you sense in this precise moment in time.” he said. “Why? Because I know it will stick with you. The fresh cut grass, the field lights lit up in the pre-dusk sky, the relief that there is no sign of rain, and many, many, proud friends and families surrounding you.

“You are standing on generations of proud and rugged Viking shoulders and have a strong legacy to build yourself upon – journey on bravely.”

Graduates throw their caps after graduating Saturday night at Gouin Complex in South Paris. Brewster Burns photo

Comments are not available on this story.