Georgiana Davidson, right, and Rieslynn Bernier get pumped Friday before the start of the graduation ceremony at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — While his classmates were joking around and mugging for photos Friday, graduating senior Connor Cyr sat at a table wondering how he should feel about this night. 

“This is an amazing experience,” the Minot teenager said. “But it’s also almost sad. I’ve been at St. Dom’s my whole life and just thinking back on all the memories… It’s a lot.” 

Cyr is next off to college to study civil engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, but first there was one final hurrah at the school to experience. 

Saint Dominic Academy graduated 26 seniors from the school Friday night, holding a ceremony in the parking lot under a sky that threatened rain but which never produced any. 

Several of those who spoke at the ceremony remarked on how this graduating class had began their high school careers under the shadow of COVID-19. They had also endured — and responded to — the horror of a mass shooting in Lewiston. 

Now it was time to go out into the larger world to see what they could make of their lives. 


Class Valedictorian Abigail Nichole Piotrowski reminded her classmates that they are the authors of their own stories. 

“Today, May 24, we write the final words in our high school chapters,” Piotrowski said. “The tears, the joy, the plethora of photos taken by parents — these moments will fill the last page. However, as we step onto this stage and receive our diplomas, we begin anew. A novel chapter, a clean page, and a million choices. We are the authors. We hold the pen, the pen that will write the story of the rest of our lives.” 

In an eloquent and passionate speech, Piotrowski also cautioned her peers that the real world is coming at them and the real world can come without mercy. They may write their own stories, she said, but no story can be happy all the time. 

“The truth is, nothing I say today will prevent the heartache and uncertainty we will face in our future, regardless of the career or path we decide upon,” Piotrowski said. “Trial is unavoidable, but failure isn’t. Failure is a choice, a choice to allow our negative experiences to erode away our very selves. 

“Tonight, as you throw your cap into the air, let go of the worries, the mistakes, the frustrations of the past four years,” she said. “But, hold on tight to your values and commitments. Ten years from now, when your career is falling into shreds, when tiny, fighting children surround you, when life is an utter disaster, don’t let go of what truly matters.” 

Kyle Reed, the graduation emcee, practices different ideas for unique handshakes with his classmates Friday before the start of the graduation ceremony at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Piotrowski then went on to quote from the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” she said. 


Social science teacher Kelly Angell reminded the class of all they endured over their years at St. Dom’s. They weathered a return to school after a global pandemic turned the world topsy-turvy. 

They rallied together after the mass shooting to organize a fundraiser for the victims and their families. 

When things got real, Angell said, the Saint Dominic Class of ’24 responded with a united front. 

“They may argue like siblings at times, Angell said, “but I know that they will have each others’ backs if and when it is needed. 

“Graduates,” she told the departing class, “you all have ‘dun good’ in high school and I expect nothing less from each of you in your future endeavors.” 

Class Salutatorian, Anna Katrina Geyer-Shaheen, told stories of ping pong tournaments, chemistry equations, rounds of karaoke at the junior retreat. 


She also spoke of pranks, dance battles and wheeling through the school hallways on office chairs. 

“We have experienced highs and lows together and yet still see the humanity in each other through it all,” Geyer-Shaheen said. “The beautiful thing about St. Dom’s is that we are more than just an institution. We are a family, united through a belief in God, creating an unfaltering community that produces students who strive to make a difference in the world around us. As we walk away from this school today, we know that our departure is not permanent because we will carry with us the priceless friendships, memories, and skills we have learned. 

“I couldn’t be any prouder,” she said, “to call myself a saint and a friend of each member of this graduating class.” 

Bobo Shema records a TikTok video before the start of his graduation ceremony Friday at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Academy Board Chair and Saint Dominic alumna Kathy Pleau Martin observed how the students had learned to think critically over their years at the school; how they’ve developed a thirst for knowledge and experienced the power of collaboration. 

“Let your education at St. Dom’s be the bedrock upon which you build a life of purpose and integrity,” Martin said. “Be leaders who inspire, innovators who challenge the status quo, and compassionate individuals who strive to make the world a better place.” 

Marianne Pelletier, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Portland, advised the class to be be kind in all that they do. To feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and visit the sick. 


“I challenge you to move forward in your life, remembering that you are a disciple of Christ,” she said to the class. “That your words and actions define you.” 

School Principal Alanna Stevenson noted how the students in this graduating class — and the middle children among them especially — did everything with flourish and great drama. 

“From your unrelenting banter to a random appearance of Spiderman, this class has an energy that is infectious,” she said. “As this class has grown together, so has this trait. It will be truly missed in these hallways next year.” 

And like that, it was over. The Saint Dominic Academy Class of 2024 was finished with high school and off to face the next phase. 

They went with their valedictorian’s reminder that their own personal stories are yet waiting to be written. 

“You are the author,” Piotrowski told them. “Keep the pen in your hand and write an amazing story.” 

Gianna Errico, offers her corsage for a sniff to a friend Friday before the start of the graduation ceremony at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. Errico’s mother gave her the corsage. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

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