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Fort Kent graduates embrace change and ‘move their feet’ toward success

FORT KENT, Maine — The 61 Fort Kent Community High School graduates who received their diplomas at a ceremony on Friday night are prepared for and eager to embrace the future.

Fort Kent Community High School Class of 2018 graduate Jamie Pelletier embraces family friend Eric Therrien following the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 8. At left is Bob Therrien. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

“The class of 2018 is an extraordinary class with 85 percent going on to post-secondary endeavors. Nearly 5 percent are going into the military. You may wonder about what the remaining 10 percent are doing. I assure you that they are pursuing their dreams in a more entrepreneurial fashion as several of them have already established successful businesses,” Principal John Kaleta said at the graduation ceremony.

“They have embraced our core values of ‘honesty, responsibility, respect and invested learners,’ thus have been outstanding role-models for the underclassmen and middle school learners.”

Graduates Lea Pelletier, Michelle MacLaren-Toussaint, and Jonathan Blanchette  presented commencement speeches at the ceremony.

Pelletier spoke of embracing change for the sake of personal growth.

Fort Kent Community High School Class of 2018 graduates Niko Naranja, Emily Marin, and Jonathan Blanchette perform “Never Forget” at their graduation ceremony on Friday, June 8. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

“The world has changed so much in the short eighteen years that we have been alive,” she said. “Just when our world becomes comfortable and familiar, life changes, and something new and unknown begins. Change. It can be scary and intimidating, and we as human beings are resistant to the unfamiliar. But without change, we wouldn’t grow.

“We are undergoing yet another change — arguably one of the biggest in our lives. We’re moving on to the next part of our lives with new-found freedom that we have waited so long to experience,” Pelletier said. “Our education will carry us into this freedom, as we have learned many valuable lessons not only in academics, but in moral values as well. We will show respect. We will be honest. We will be responsible. The epitome of a growth mindset is adapting to change, and this is something that our educational journey at Fort Kent Community High School has taught us well.”

MacLaren-Toussaint expressed thanks for those who helped the graduates achieve success.

Fort Kent Community High School Class of 2018 graduate Michelle Maclaren-Toussaint greets a loved one following her graduation ceremony on Friday, June 8. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

“Gratitude is a key concept to a unified culture,” she said. “If everyone could look up from their phones, or take a moment to look around, we can appreciate the little things, never missing an opportunity to communicate our thankfulness. Gratitude can help connect us to one another.”

She said she and her fellow graduates especially owe thanks to their parents.

“For 18 years, you have devoted your lives to us, and have pushed your needs out of the way to meet ours,” she said. “Raising a child demands countless acts of selflessness, courage, and love, which you have expressed.”  

MacLaren-Toussaint also shared her gratitude for the teachers at CHS.

“You have helped all of us to no end, and are appreciated for all you do,” she said.

Class of 2018 Fort Kent Community High School graduate Dylan Bernier pauses to take a ‘selfie’ photo of himself and Superintendent Ben Sirois while receiving his diploma on Friday, June 8. (Courtesy of Dylan Bernier)

Blanchette told his fellow graduates to be true to themselves, whether they choose to follow a post high-school path of work or academia.

“Immerse yourself into the world of what you want to be. It’s the only way to achieve your goals,” he said.

School guidance counselor Catherine Sevigny told the standing-room only audience at the Fort Kent Community High School gymnasium that the graduates had racked up $470,446 in scholarship money.

The audience rose to their feet at the ceremony and offered applause in appreciation of three graduates, Keardin Bernier, Lindsey Daigle, and Brandon Thibeault, who have enlisted to serve in the military, as well as for three students who currently serve as volunteer firefighters in the St. John Valley — Brody Albert, Jamie Pelletier and Alex Raymond.

Class of 2018 Fort Kent Community High School graduates gather on the lawn outside the school following their graduation ceremony on Friday, June 8. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

Friday’s graduation ceremony also was filled with some light-hearted moments, like when graduate Dylan Bernier, while receiving his diploma, paused to take a “selfie” with his cell phone of himself and SAD 27 Superintendent Ben Sirois, to the laughter of the audience.

The ceremony wrapped up with an enthusiastic performance by Albert, who headed up the recessional by rapping the lyrics to “Move Your Feet,” by Junior Senior as he and his classmates danced their way out of the gymnasium and into their futures.

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