Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 13, 2013
Penobscot Community School graduates eight in Class of 2013
The graduating class at the Penobscot Community School : front row, Nick Norton and Marena Koenka; second row: seventh grade Marshal Nathan Winchester, Peter Grillo and Gabby Farrenkopf; back row: Tyler Brenton, Tyler Snow, Joceylyn Willis and Josie Clark.
by Rich Hewitt
There was no “Pomp and Circumstance” for the eight graduates at the Penobscot Community School on Tuesday.
Instead of marching to that traditional graduation processional, they side-stepped their way through the school gym to the strains of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
Led by the class marshal, seventh-grader Nate Winchester, the graduates, Tyler Snow, Marena Koenka, Nicholas Norton, Tyler Brenton, Gabby Farrenkopf, Josie Clark, Jocelyn Willis and Peter Grillo took their places on the stage. Each had a part in the ceremony, which included greeting their family, teachers and friends, presenting the class history, class gifts, prophecy and will.
Each graduate also presented a single flower to selected individuals in the audience. The graduating class also gave a special “thank you” to school secretary Christine Kilpeck. Marena Koenka said that, from the time they started school, Kilpeck had provided care and comfort to them when it was most needed.
Eighth-grade teacher Suzzi Nielsen presented the Secretary of State Citizenship Award to Tyler Snow. Nielsen noted the academic improvement Tyler had made during the year as well as his willingness to help, his positive attitude and his good sportsmanship on the athletic field.
Representing the Ramassoc Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Elizabeth Snow presented the DAR Good Citizenship Award to Jocelyn Willis. The award recognizes the graduating student who has shown high moral values, patriotism, honor, courage and leadership, and service to the school and community.
Art teacher Judy Park presented art awards to each of the students, recognizing their individual achievements in art class, and Nielsen also presented tokens to the students, reminders of their classroom sessions together.
Deb Belyea, the art teacher at the school until she retired last year, was the guest speaker for the graduation. She presented each graduate with a leaf from the branch of a Ginko tree, which had been a gift to her from her fifth-grade teacher, a mentor and the one, she said, who had ignited her love for learning.
“You’re going to meet many who will help you and inspire you along the way,” she said. “I hope this [the leaf] will keep you excited about learning until you find your own mentors.”
Before presenting diplomas, Principal Allen Cole noted that he had made a connection with each of the graduates, adding that the class had started kindergarten the same year he became principal at the school.
“This is my first class—start to finish,” he said.
As Cole read each student’s name, Superintendent Mark Hurvitt presented them with their diploma. And with a handshake from Nielsen, it was over. After spraying their own confetti from the stage, the newly minted graduates danced their way around and out of the gym to the tune of “Live While We’re Young,” by One Direction.