Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 12, 2014
Deer Isle-Stonington graduation celebrates friends, family and community
The graduates pose before the ceremony on the lawn of the high school. Front row, from left to right: Deven Olsen, Tyler Bartlett, Asia Eaton, Walter Kumiega IV, Alorah Gellerson, Lucas Oliver, Kelsey Oliver, Douglas Heanssler and Nick Dunham. Second row from left to right: Brandon Higgins, Sasha Zembrusky, Kassandra Sturdee, Katie Haskell, Kennady Eaton, Marissa Donovan, Megan Weed, Alicia Allen, Belle Merritt, Julia Bentley, Crystal Bessey and Abigail Knowlton. Third row, from left to right: John Madura, David McManus, Rebekah Nutter, Kristyn Davis, Emmi-Jo Trundy, Daniel Kolysher, Patrick Duddy, Whitney Brown, Andy Turner and Stuart Bray.
by Jessica Brophy
Community members filled a warm gym on Sunday, June 8, to celebrate the graduation of the 33 members of the class of 2014.
High school principal Todd West welcomed those present and remarked that the graduation rate for the class of 2014 was 91 percent—the third year running of 90-percent or higher graduation rates. Historically, West said, the graduation rate had hovered around 75 percent.
“I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to a 100-percent graduation rate,” said West. “Our students and our community deserve no less.”
West thanked the four advisors for the graduating class: Leslie Billings, Rhonda Turner, Seth LaPlante and Terry Siebert. He also made a point to thank parents for their hard work bringing graduates to the end of their high school career.
West used the questions asked by seniors as part of the “Senior Exhibition” projects to show the diversity of interests among the group. Questions tend to be about a particular field or interest, and West said the questions ranged from speech pathology, taxidermy, acupuncture, dance, the food industry and more. “One student asked, ‘what would my financial situation need to be to upgrade to a bigger boat?’” said West, who said the student found out that too much boat is worse than not enough. He encouraged students to “invest in yourself by continuing to learn,” whether that was in a formal setting or just by asking questions.
Speeches then followed by honor part members. Third honor essayist Andrew Turner urged his classmates to “never take life too seriously, and to enjoy the benefits life has to offer.” He also encouraged younger students to have a broad range of interests.
Second honor essayist Belle Merritt read a version of “The Guy in the Glass” by Dale Wimbrow. The poem begins, “When you get what you want as your struggle for self/And the world makes you queen for a day/Just go to the mirror and look at yourself/And see what that woman has to say.”
First honor essayist Douglas Heanssler talked about the fleeting nature of time, and how important it is to enjoy high school as you “only experience it once.”
Salutatorian Megan Weed talked about her experience coming into high school. “Some excited, some terrified,” she said of her classmates. “We wanted to be princesses and cowboys.”
Valedictorian Abigail Knowlton talked about her journey overcoming her fear of new things. “New was not my friend,” she said of her early anxiety. It was her mom’s encouragement to “embrace the experience” that helped her learn to overcome that.
Knowlton thanked her family for helping her achieve. “When I stop and think about how much I have, it’s a wonder I can complain at all,” she continued.
Scholarships were then awarded to students. This year, there were 85 awards totaling nearly $65,000. See a list of scholarship recipients on page 8 in this issue.
School board chairman Mark Cormier and Superintendent Mark Jenkins then awarded students diplomas. The graduates left the stage to “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas, and were accompanied by class marshals Mallory Gommo and Jared Gove.