Media Archive

PVHS graduates Class of 2003

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 25, June 18, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Class of 2003

MILO Classes may be over for some, but the real test is beginning.

All 59 members of the Penquis Valley High School's Class of 2003 were challenged at commencement ceremony Sunday to find joy in life, be a success and let every moment be their best.

Principal John Robinson opened the commencement exercises in the high school gymnasium with a welcome, and a thank you to those dads who joined the graduating seniors on "your special day," Father's Day.

Salutatorian Melissa "Katie" Madden invited the audience of about 250 lining the bleachers and sitting in chairs on the wooden floor to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, before her speech. "I'd like to welcome all who made this day possible," she said. "We finally made it."

Madden then posed a question: What will be the best years of our lives? She noted that many say that; high school years are the best, or college years. She wondered aloud whether it is the place or the circumstances that make those years the best, before concluding that "in the end, the best years are those we choose to enjoy the most."

"Joy is a choice," she continued. "When we can be thankful for what we have and not disappointed with what we don't have, then we find joy."

Madden challenged her classmates to choose joy and "let every moment be the best."

Luke Morris, second honor essayist, thanked his family members and then gave some advice to his peers. He said that true success can not be achieved without sticking to one's moral principles.

"Success is self-defining," he said. "Avoid the pressures of making money and acquiring material goods. That's not important. Pursue your passions." .

Morris said that hard work means the difference between a mediocre existence and a successful life. "Dreams, hard work and values are the key to success," he said, adding that "if at first you do succeed, try not to look too surprised."

Amanda Crouch-Smith, first honor essayist, commended her classmates &Mac247; as well as the community &Mac247; on "a job well done." She explained how she had moved to small town rural Maine from Houston, Texas, at the end of her eighth-grade year. "I moved 2,000 miles north, and as far as I was concerned, I was headed to the North Pole," she said.

Since that fateful move, she said, she has discovered the importance of taking part in a community, such as
Milo. "Milo citizens embody the philosophy that less is more," she said. "Every person is a vital part in
a working community", she told the crowd.

She told her classmates to embrace life, even if it means accepting change. "To the Class of 2003, you were meant to be whatever you dream of becoming," Crouch-Smith said.

Valedictorian Jean Hamlin then spoke about how lucky the students in SAD 41 are to be in a community that supports them. "Our teachers put in the extra time; our parents offer love and encouragement, not only to their sons and daughters, but to their friends," she said.

Hamlin,-a student athlete, suggested that the game of basketball is not that much different from life. She said it is the crowd's cheers that often win basketball games, and that same support can help lift individuals to success.

"Our successes will not be ours alone," she told the crowd.

In addition to the 59 students receiving diplomas from SAD 41 Superintendent David Walker and Robinson an Atkinson man received his diploma&Mac247; more than half a century after he left high school.Stephen Stanley did not attend Sunday's ceremony, but he was there in spirit,he said Monday. He has received his diploma, and that it means a lot to him.

A law passed by the Maine Legislature in 2001 made Stanley, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a dispatcher in the European motor pool, eligible for the diploma. He said his daughter,- Diane Smith of Atkinson, submitted his name for the special recognition.

"It took me 80 years to get it," Stanley said. "It feels good."

A list of scholarships awarded to graduating seniors during the June 15 ceremony will be published in a future issue of The Piscataquis Observer.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.