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News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 26, 2014
Teacher and 10 graduates from Sedgwick school looking to future

The Sedgwick Elementary School Class of 2014

Left to right Dawn Hutchinson, Althea Kastelic, Bryce Dannenberg, Alexis Tozier, Allie Sprague-Scravano, Coral Bubel, Jason Herrick, Olivia Brown, Michelle diPretoro and Emily Hooper, members of the Class of 2014 at Sedgwick Elementary School, in Sedgwick, Maine, cheerfully pose before commencement on Wednesday, June 18.

Photo by Bette Britt Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Bette Britt

Wednesday, June 18, was a night to remember for 10 Sedgwick Elementary School students as they starred in their commencement ceremony before a gymnasium filled with parents, relatives and townspeople. And, despite the fact it marked the last time they’d be together as the Class of 2014, there was a sense of joy in personal accomplishment and, with their teacher Bonnie Mellott also moving on to a different school in Carmel, no sadness was expressed while looking back at their school year.

It was all smiles and looking ahead for the eighth grade graduates: Olivia Brown, Coral Bubal, Bryce Dannenberg, Michelle diPretoro, Jason Herrick, Emily Hooper, Dawn Hutchinson, Althea Kastelic, Allie Sprague-Scravano and Alexis Tozier.

With a public address system that caught every pause for breath, they took turns recapping a year filled with work on personal projects displayed along one wall, and they laughed through a prophesy of how their lives would turn out in 20 years, including the fact that Donald Buckingham would still be Sedgwick Elementary School Principal when they’d be in their mid-30s.

The students were said to have been clear about their choice for commencement speaker. “We really want you to speak,” eighth grade teacher Mellott explained to her audience before launching into a fable-with-a-twist about Pandora, who was “too busy” to open the box, and Aurora, a fairy who bestowed only good gifts. To recognize the kinds of gifts Aurora could give to members of the Class of 2014, Mellott cited tenacity, joy, imagination, acceptance of people and zest for living as examples, she ended with cautionary words. Lest they become like her version of Pandora, “We’re going to have to get out of our boxes.”

Working on individual projects is a feature of being a Sedgwick Elementary School eighth grader, so a significant part of graduation was covered by descriptions of projects as varied as learning a craft, such as knitting caps, to donating to worthy causes; making a lobster trap; perfecting an ability, such as art, and having it on public display. Several times students thanked parents for help, with one telling her mother, “I love you.” Another promised “not to say good-bye, because I’ll never forget you.” Most projects were on display along one side of the gymnasium, a good reason to get to an SES commencement early.

Declaring he wasn’t going to name a favorite student this year, Buckingham recognized “contenders” and listed fine characteristics of each member of the Class of 2014 before announcing, “You are all my favorites.” Who came in second? He then named each student before finally citing Herrick as salutatorian, then Brown as valedictorian. The DAR Citizenship Award went to Coral Bubel.

After Union 76 Superintendent Mark Jenkins and Chairman of the School Board Clare Grindal passed out diplomas to the 10 graduates, the Class of 2014 reciprocated by presenting their gift to Sedgwick Elementary School: risers for the stage “so all can be seen,” in the words of Sprague-Scrivano.

Graduation ended with a request for staff members to come to the front of the stage, whereupon the Class of 2014 stepped down to join them in a sedate recessional that took almost no time at all to become a full-fledged conga line, ending only when graduates lined up in front of their projects to receive congratulations.