Valedictorian Payton Mitchell of Mt. Abram High School delivers a speech Friday, June 7, to the Class of 2024. Forty-two students graduated in front of an audience of over 500 people in the school’s gymnasium in Salem Township. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

SALEM TOWNSHIP – Mt. Abram High School, a small rural school in the western mountains of Maine, celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2024 on June 7. The event, held in the school gymnasium saw over 500 attendees.

Principal Tim Richards opened the ceremony with an inspiring speech, addressing the graduates, their families, and the community. “Today we gather to celebrate a milestone in the lives of our remarkable students, the Class of 2024,” he said. “Graduates, today is your day, and it is an honor to stand before you as your principal, sharing in the joy of your accomplishments and the promise of your future.”

Richards reflected on the journey of the graduates, who entered as wide-eyed freshmen and emerged as confident young adults. “As I look out at all of you, I am reminded of the unique journey each of you has taken to arrive at this moment,” he said. He also extended gratitude to the families and the school staff for their unwavering support and commitment. To the families he said, “Your role in their success cannot be overstated.”

He concluded, “As you embark on this new chapter, know that you carry with you the hopes and dreams of your families, your teachers, and your community. Congratulations Class of 2024. Go out into the world and make it a better place.”

The ceremony continued with speeches from the salutatorian and valedictorian, who shared their experiences and gratitude. Salutatorian Samuel Cockerham expressed his appreciation for the community’s support. “The community has supported and guided our class every step of the way for the last four years; so, thank you,” he said. Cockerham acknowledged his parents for their personal support, humorously noting how their persistence helped him stay on track. “I know for me personally, if it were not for my parents waking me up after I slept through my alarm every Monday morning, I probably would not be on this stage right now.”

Cockerham said every sporting event at Mount Abram High School he has been to has been packed with people who love the school. “A strong community can help us feel that we are a part of something bigger and that we matter to others,” he said. “I feel confident in saying that this is the best community I’ve been a part of and I’m not sure I’ll experience something like this anywhere else…unless my kids go here.”


Addressing his classmates, Cockerham offered advice and words of encouragement. “I know every one of you is capable of doing amazing things,” he said. “Life is going to be hard but you already know that because John Chase made it very clear in his career development class. Life is challenging but by no means impossible.” He emphasized the strength of the community and the lasting impact it has had on their lives.

Valedictorian Payton Mitchell delivered the final speech before the diplomas were handed out. “Today marks a pivotal milestone in our lives that we’ve all dreamed of since we first stepped foot into Mt. Abram High School,” Mitchell began. He spoke of the transformation from wide-eyed freshmen to young adults armed with knowledge, friendships, and dreams. “We have been challenged and pushed beyond our limits. We have discovered passions we never knew we had and have been inspired by the very people sitting beside us,” he said

Mitchell recounted significant moments, including their 2023 soccer state championship. “The most significant moment of high school for me, and I’m sure many can say the same, was our 2023 soccer state championship,” he said, highlighting the community’s support. He recalled the last words from their coach, Darren Allen, which underscored the unity and encouragement from their community. “I can’t truly describe the feeling of your entire community being behind you and supporting you in something we’ve worked so hard to accomplish, but this is truly the Mt. Abram way,” he added.

During the ceremony, students were recognized for their excellence in academics, athletics, and community service, with over 100 scholarships awarded to 31 students. The honors included summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude, National Honor Society, and many others.

Willow Emery delivers a speech to her peers Friday, June 7, guiding them in moving the tassel on their mortarboard to the other side during Mt. Abram High School’s graduation in Strong. Forty-two students graduated in front of an audience of over 500 people. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

The event concluded with Willow Emery guiding the graduates in the symbolic tassel ceremony, marking the transition from students to graduates. The evening was filled with balloons, cheers, a cow bell, confetti cannons and a sense of accomplishment as the Class of 2024 embarked on their next journey.

Mt. Abram High School serves students from several towns and unorganized territories, encompassing a vast geographic area. Despite these challenges, the school continues to foster a strong community spirit.

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