Najmo Ahmed, left, and Muna Hassan wave Tuesday to friends, family and well-wishers before their Lewiston High School graduation at The Green Ladle. Hassan was the class leader and student speaker. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — When Muna Hassan started her senior year at Lewiston High School, she had fewer than half of the credits needed for graduation and little motivation.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it at all,” she said.

But on Tuesday, after a successful senior year and full session of summer school behind her, Hassan received her diploma at Lewiston High School’s summer graduation, along with 19 classmates.

The Green Ladle at Lewiston Regional Technical Center was standing room only as school staff and families cheered on the new graduates.

“I feel very accomplished,” Hassan, the class leader and student speaker, said. “High school has been a long, bumpy road.”

School disruptions caused by COVID-19 and personal issues beyond their control led some of the graduates to fall behind in their classwork. For Hassan, who unexpectedly lost her older brother two years ago, it was both.


In a video message, Superintendent Jake Langlais acknowledged the challenges students have faced at home and in their personal lives which have impacted their education.

“And still, you rose up,” he said.

Friends and family assemble Tuesday for the Lewiston High School summer graduation at The Green Ladle. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Isaiah Smith, a graduate of Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s automotive program, credited his summer school teachers for helping him earn the credits he needed to receive his diploma.

“Some days I just didn’t want to do work, and then they just like told me that it would be worth it and to look at life ahead,” he said.

Problems at home put his education on the back burner. When he came back to school, staff were there to help.

His advice for others? “Never give up,” he said. “It’s worth it.”


This fall, Smith plans to enroll in Central Maine Community College’s automotive program.

Hassan isn’t yet sure what lies ahead for her, but in her speech she shared that she wanted to become a social worker to help those who have been through “unimaginable hardships.”

Linda Iverson, a 12th-grade English teacher, has taught summer school for 10 years. She teaches students at all levels, allowing her to make connections with some students before they become seniors.

Like other teachers, Iverson said the last school year was the most difficult of her career.

“A lot of these kids had such a hard time virtually,” Iverson said. “They needed the one-on-one and they couldn’t get it.” To make up for lost credits, students enrolled in summer school.

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline offers opening remarks Tuesday to Lewiston High School’s summer graduates at a ceremony at The Green Ladle. Twenty students received their diplomas. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Classes moved to a remote format in the spring of 2020 at the start of the pandemic. During the 2020-21 school year, students learned through a mix of online and in-person classes.


“I’m really happy for them because this is a second chance for them,” Iverson said. Many are considering continuing their education at local community colleges this fall in part due to the state tuition scholarship for recent graduates, she added.

At the high school alone, several hundred students attended summer school this year, according to Assistant Principal Jay Dufour. Some are getting ahead on credits while others are there to catch up.

But due to an increasingly tight budget, the district is not yet sure what the district’s summer programs will look like next year. Summer school was funded through federal COVID-19 relief funds this year, which the district can only do for one more summer, according to Assistant Superintendent Karen Paquette.

The question isn’t whether the district will have summer school next year, she said, but how big the program will be.

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