The Class of 2017 Graduates...

June 9, 2017

As valedictorian of her class, Fern Calkins clearly learned a lot academically during her four years at Messalonskee High School. But in her remarks Thursday night at the Class of 2017 commencement ceremony, Calkins emphasized that her most meaningful lesson, her greatest source of inspiration, came not in the classroom but via a dear friend who tragically lost her life.

“I can confidently say that for me this inspiration has come from Cassidy Charette, both during her life and after it tragically ended,” Calkins said. “If it were not for Cassidy I would have never have joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters and met my little sister Lyndsey with whom I have formed an awe-inspiring relationship with. I would have never decided to play soccer again after taking a year off, a sport I now plan to continue in college. I also would have never realized the importance of continually treating others with kindness and compassion.”

She encouraged her classmates to find their own source(s) of inspiration to help them deal with the inevitable changes ahead.

Calkins remarks came during an evening in which 151 students – one of the smallest Messalonskee classes in recent memory - walked across the stage at the Augusta Civic Center to receive their diplomas.

Messalonskee Principal Paula Callan had kind words for her graduates, praising in particular the willingness of students to help others, both classmates and people in the greater community.

“As a senior class, I believe you have risen to the challenge of leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered in years to come,” Callan said. “Thank you for being willing to challenge yourself to become better school citizens, involved community members, and phenomenal human beings.”

Class salutatorian Francesco (Vann) Guarnieri assured classmates that while what lies ahead may seem daunting at times, the future also represents a second chance, an opportunity to compensate for the regrets of the past and establish a new and perhaps more rewarding path.

But to do so, Guarnieri advised his fellow graduates to work hard at everything they pursue and also make sure to embrace the activities that provide them happiness. He offered an example of the latter recommendation – a comment that elicited more than a few chuckles from classmates.

“Your passions may not be the most popular ones,” he said. “I spent hundreds of hours in high school doing math, and I have no regrets.”

After the presentation of diplomas, Class President Gabriela Languet closed the ceremony by speaking to the many accomplishments of the Class of 2017, including many athletic championships and remarkable success in music, drama, and robotic competitions.

“Even as a small class,” she said. “We don’t let anything stand in our way.”