St. John Valley

18 Wisdom students receive diplomas

ST. AGATHA, Maine — There were plenty of laughs and tears in the Wisdom High School gym as Principal Ralph Fantasia and student speakers representing the Class of 2022 reminisced about memories the 18 graduating students shared throughout the years. 

Fantasia said the class is composed of exceptional students.

“This group has always excelled when it came to their education. A third of them were taking advanced math when they entered back in seventh grade. Over the years, they moved on to taking honors-level courses and early college classes,” Fantasia said. 

One graduation cap mortar board said it all following the Wisdom High School Class of 2022 graduation ceremony on Saturday morning. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

He said that some of the students also excelled at music, art and at the St. John Valley Technology Center, as well as in sports. 

“On the athletic field, over these past six years, you have helped bring Wisdom’s athletic programs to statewide prominence, capping off this senior year with strong performances in all seasonal sports,” Fantasia said. 

Fantasia also discussed some of the challenges the Class of 2022 faced. 

A once-in-a-century pandemic arrived as these students were two thirds of the way through their sophomore year. Their last “normal” year of school was when they were freshmen.

Then last summer, Dr. Levesque Elementary School in the district burned to the ground in a fire, and elementary school students began learning in a wing of the high school.

“The campus changed. We were no longer a 7-12 school; we were now a school for all of our district’s students,” Fantasia said. “But these seniors faced this like they have everything else in their march toward graduation; they accepted the challenge.”

The Wisdom High School Class of 2022 leaves the stage after their graduation ceremony on Saturday morning. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

Most of the students attended Dr. Levesque Elementary School together. Valedictorian Madysen Picard said she had recently walked by the school and was flooded with childhood memories spent there with her classmates. 

“It gives a strange feeling, to think that all the time we had spent at Dr. Levesque, could be compressed into something as invaluable as a pile of rubble. Approximately 2,000 days that we were taught inside of those walls, burned down in a matter of one,” Picard said. “The one thing that survived that fire, without water, smoke or heat damage, and is also that special thing we get to leave here with today, is the memories that live on within each student. No matter the circumstance, our memories from school will exist, simply because we do.”

Picard shared an incident that involved a classmate from second grade at Dr. Levesque: “Jackson Dube took one for the team and showed us that your tongue really does stick to the metal poles on the playground in the winter if you lick them.” 

School guidance counselor Tammy Lothrop said 15 of the students will attend colleges or universities and have been awarded a combined $140,800 worth of scholarships. Three other students plan to enter the workforce. 

An Aroostook County Sheriff’s deputy guarded the school during the graduation ceremony at the request of school officials so that all those who attended would feel safe.

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