By Rachel Ohm, Morning Sentinel
FARMINGTON — As the Class of 2018 at Mt. Blue High School gathered in the school’s gymnasium Sunday afternoon, they were called on to think about their future and how they want to define themselves.
“Consider the traits you are most proud of and forget the ones you dislike,” said graduate Kayla White in a speech to her classmates. “As you all are immersed in your new homes, schools and places of work, consider the way you want to reinvent yourself to become the best version of you.”
White, who is one of 137 graduates in the Class of 2018, was also one of three student speakers during the school’s 48th commencement ceremony Sunday.
She spoke about her experience moving to Farmington in the fourth grade as an example of what it’s like to start over and have the opportunity to redefine yourself.
She encouraged her classmates to reflect on who they are and carry forward their best traits after high school, but also to cherish all they have accomplished together as a class.
“Our lives leading up to this moment have been packed with good and bad experiences we’ve used to define ourselves,” she said. “We currently have a vision or our personalities, our abilities and more. We hold ourselves to tough standards and high goals.”
Graduate Rachel Harvell also addressed her classmates, friends and family in a speech that focused on the challenges the Class of 2018 has overcome, from making friends on the playground in elementary school to trying to impress each other with their clothes and makeup in middle school.
“Those things seemed to important but now seem so little when we look back on them today,” Harvell said. “In those days we still had little care because high school still seemed far away. We knew when we entered those days things would change forever and we would no longer be kids.”
In high school, freshman year meant trying to be mature and grown-up. Sophomore year was “the worst,” stuck in the middle between wanting to slack off and also wanting the trust of adults to do whatever you want. In junior year, thoughts of graduation were far away but the pace was picking up on the way to senior year, with SATs, stressful exams and seniors eventually passing on the torch.
“You come to dream about a diploma in your hand and a cap on your head,” Harvell said. “June could not come soon enough. We say, ‘I will never miss this place,’ but today some of us do miss those moments.”
The ceremony opened with advice from Principal Monique Poulin, who said that in reflecting on the Class of 2018, she was struck by their kindness. The idea reinforced her own message to the graduates.
“My advice is to choose kind,” Poulin said. “There’s no downside to that. Maintain the positive interactions and relationships that have been evident over the last year and in all situations, choose kind.”
Later, graduate Andrea Jones read some of the favorite advice of teachers.
Stay curious and in awe of wonders of the universe. Ask deep questions. Remember to put yourself in other people’s shoes before you judge them. Look at diverse issues from multiple perspectives. Know you have options in life. Trust yourself. Try what you really want to try and get to know yourself.