MDI High School Class of 2022 graduation ceremony speeches

Principal Matthew Haney

MDI High School 54th graduation ceremony

By Principal Matthew Haney

Welcome, friends and family, to the 54th Mount Desert Island High School graduation ceremony. We are here this afternoon to celebrate these young adults before me who have both given and received so much from this wonderful community. It has been my pleasure and privilege to know them and to work with them during their time in high school.

Before we go any further, I’d like to take a few moments to say thank you to those who have helped the graduates along the way.


MDI High School enjoys unparalleled support from our wonderful local community. Our students have the unique opportunity to expand their learning beyond the school walls. This is possible because of partnerships with The Jackson Laboratory and MDI Bio Lab, Acadia National Park, College of the Atlantic, and more. Additionally, many of our graduates get a boost in paying for college expenses due to incredibly generous scholarship donations, totaling nearly $400,000 this year. We could not achieve what we do without the support of our community.

I would like to sincerely thank the families of our students, particularly of those who are graduating today. You have raised amazing young citizens, and that did not happen by accident. Thank you for all the love, patience, and time you have given to them. Thank you also for trusting us to guide them through their high school years.

Faculty and staff

At this point in the program, I’d like to take a minute to recognize the team of individuals who pulled together to help make today’s ceremony a success. It’s been an amazing effort and I’m very proud of what this team has accomplished. Thank you so much to Mark Arnold, Brent Barker, Phil Blanchard, Ian Braun, Mark Carignan, Jill Cohen, Cathy Colbeth, Mary Corrow, Bunky Dow, Carrie Eason, Bo Greene, Eric Hann, Christian Harris, Brittany Kearns, Brooke Kearns, Joel Linscott, Wendy Littlefield, Lorie Merchant, Lisa Richardson, Jenny Rogers, Megan Rowell, Tammy Shelton, Dan Stillman, Carmela Thurston, Scott Watson, Mary Wallace, Ericka Witham and Jeff Zaman.

I am overflowing with pride when I think about what the team of educators in this school has managed to do over the past several years in support of all of our students, in particular the Class of 2022. When I use the word educators, I’m intending it as an inclusive term. Everyone, from office staff to teachers and school counselors, from the kitchen staff to the leadership team, to the maintenance crew and the ed techs, comes together for one unifying purpose – the holistic education of our community’s teenagers.  I am here today to publicly express my gratitude and admiration for the educators of Mount Desert Island High School for their perseverance and triumph in the face of adversity. If you, like me, are in awe of the incredible efforts of our MDI High School educators, please join me in thanking them with a hearty round of applause.

There is one particular member of our team that I’d like to recognize. Mary Wallace, our longtime guidance administrative assistant, was forced to step down unexpectedly this spring because of her health. For 32 years, Mary anchored the guidance office and, by extension, the entire school. She cared deeply for her coworkers and the students, helped create and grow our scholarship program, and made a difference in the lives of thousands of Trojans. While Mary can’t be here today, we would like to celebrate her contributions to MDI High School and to the greater community that she served so well and for so long.

Harriet Tubman said that “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” The Class of 2022 has embodied that strength, patience and passion in a time of great uncertainty. Their high school years were rudely interrupted by a global pandemic, which could have derailed their educational path. Instead, this group in front of me chose to step up and take the challenges in front of them head on. Most classes at MDI can be proud of their accomplishments in the classroom, on the athletic field, in the theater, in the music room and beyond. 2022 is no exception. If you don’t believe me, take a walk around campus and check out all of the shiny plaques, trophies and record boards. What sets the Class of 2022 apart is their willingness and aptitude to stand up for what’s right and to put their beliefs into action.

They have left this school and this community two specific gifts that will have profound impacts beyond their time here. The Class of 2022 includes a number of founding members of the MDIRSS Anti-Racism Task force, which is working tirelessly to combat hate and inequity based on ethnicity or skin color. The Class of 2022 have also left us with Project Legacy, which lays the blueprint for ecological stewardship and leadership for at least the next decade.

So many of the young people sitting in front of me today have had the courage to dream, the commitment to lead and the tenacity to strive for the realization of their visions. We will miss them terribly, and their impact will remain long after they have moved on.


Grace Munger


By Grace Munger

Good afternoon. My name is Grace Munger and I’d like to thank my classmates for giving me the honor to speak to you today.

I’d like to stand up here and reflect on all the good things that have happened over the past few years. There have been so many great memories we made as a class – going to Sand Beach to play tackle football, bonfires at Hadley Point and our awesome senior pranks.

But our class has also experienced some really unique challenges throughout high school. When we were freshman, none of us could have predicted that a pandemic would take over more than half of our high school experience. Over one out of every 10 days of our lives have been spent living in a pandemic. Overnight, everything turned upside-down with a switch to remote learning, changing schedules, the canceling of sports, concerts and plays all while living with the fear of spreading COVID-19 to our grandparents.

But we haven’t just been dealing with challenges from the past two years. My generation has grown up participating in active shooter drills, and I now know the best way out of almost every classroom in the high school. I’m constantly aware of it. Just so you know, the best way out of this gym is the back doors.

Now, every alarm has us prepared for and fearing the worst. And if you thought that school shootings and a pandemic weren’t enough, this graduating class has grown up with a deep understanding of climate change, with the foresight to see its effects on both local and global economy and sustainability. It is our generation that will get to see the full consequences of our inaction. And by “our,” I really mean “your.” Everything that I have mentioned could have been avoided, or prevented, but we didn’t get a vote in our future.

But despite these challenges, I am hopeful. Because of you all and because of my peers, I’m hopeful.

I’m hopeful because I have watched as my classmates have become leaders in the school this year, setting a precedent for how we want students at MDI High School to be supportive of each other in years to come. We saw the lifting of COVID restrictions and took it as the opportunity it was. We went to each other’s games, plays, musicals and performances. People even got creative and intercepted the cross-country bus when we got back from winning the state meet. We promoted school spirit while simultaneously creating a more supportive community. Our class began to rebuild some of what was lost due to COVID.

We also showed how adaptable we are. There was a lot of change through our four years of high school, not all of it due to COVID, but the majority, yes, it was due to COVID.

There were changes in the world – changes in the way we learned and interacted with each other, changes in our schedules, which might not seem like that big of a deal, but I still can’t remember when Block C starts and have relied on Lexi Simard to get me to class on time for the entire year. Every change that was presented to us, we adapted to. And our adaptability is the basis of being able to accept needed change.

However, growing through these past few years has not only been the result of our efforts, but the extraordinary dedication and support of our teachers, mentors, parents, coaches and siblings. We are so lucky to live on an island and in a community that supports us as learners, activists, athletes, artists, and gives us the freedom to explore what we love.

Because of this island, I have had amazing experiences, like being surrounded by fire trucks, police cars and ambulances while parading through the island after winning a state championship. I have had the opportunity to work on a farm and interact directly with community members. I live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, with so many chances to interact with nature.

And even though some days I wish I didn’t have to fear being put on the Facebook group “Bar Harbor’s Famous Parking Show,” or worse, being featured in the Islander’s police beat, I will always be grateful for the love this small community has given me as I have grown up. And I will miss living in a place like this.

I want to give a specific thanks to all of the teachers at this school and in the district who have helped to guide us and support us through huge changes in the way we had to learn, and for many of us, the last 13 years of our lives. You have helped us both to adapt and learn how to adapt, and in return we taught you how to not leave the Google meet when trying to mute yourself.

I appreciate your patience with us while we navigated through growing into adults and living in a pandemic, and I will always be grateful for the time and effort you devoted to our learning.

I also want to extend my gratitude towards the staff and administrators of this school and the district who work tirelessly to give us a supportive place to learn. And to my neighbor, Mr. Haney, thank you for taking a stand and finally putting litter boxes in our bathrooms!! I’m KIDDING! Don’t go putting that on Facebook! Which, by the way, is another strength of this class – we don’t believe everything we read on the internet.

Finally, I want to end by circling back around to the Class of 2022, because we are the most important part of the day. I want to ask you all to continue to be resilient. To protest and be active. To keep asking questions of those in authority. To go vote. Because that is how we will prevent some of the challenges we have experienced as young people from falling onto the next generation.

So, congratulations to my classmates. Each and every one of you should be proud of yourselves and what you have accomplished. Good luck and have fun wherever you go.

Thank you.


Charlie Parker


By Charlie Parker

Bittersweet. Within the past week, I think the word “bittersweet” has been added to every senior’s vocabulary. And honestly, I can’t help but feel the exact same way. After four years of adversity and challenges that everyone has heard of time and again, the Class of 2022 has done one hell of a job making this past year, and especially these past few weeks, both incredibly enjoyable and memorable. And while the anticipation for graduation slowly built, I’ve come to realize this “bittersweet” taste that most of us share originates from those special moments we all collectively hold. So, a quick thank you goes out to all of you soon-to-be graduates for a wonderful school year.

Now . . . how about we revisit some of these memories?

I, for one, will never forget the UNMATCHED school spirit we shared throughout all of the sports seasons. I wanted to take a second to congratulate some of my personal favorite teams to watch this year: The girls’ volleyball, soccer, cross-country and basketball teams all made deep playoff pushes and were extremely competitive. Thank you to the boys’ teams for participating.

Unfortunately, like some of our sports seasons, life can be an uphill battle. I am absolutely positive that every student here today has battled with their fair share of struggles and has overcome many obstacles. For instance, parents, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but every student at MDI High School is required to voyage countless miles to reach a restroom that isn’t locked and barricaded. And to be fair, those bathrooms are now open, but I’m pretty sure the vaping epidemic never stopped.

And this may not be the most popular thing to say in this environment, but everyone is a little rebellious from time to time, especially teenagers. I believe that high schoolers naturally butt heads with authority, and that’s OK. As long as you can have fun, stay safe and keep out of trouble, everything will work out in the end. Just a bit of advice to the juniors and underclassmen – if you guys ever feel like organizing a Senior Skip Day, make sure to run it by the administration beforehand. They’ll be super cool about it, and no one will get in trouble.

But in all seriousness, I hope everyone here is able to recognize and appreciate the real meaning of why we are gathered. Today is a day to celebrate the entire senior class and our vast individual and collective accomplishments. I hope each one of you is proud to close this chapter and move on to whatever you feel life has in store for you.

Although it took me a while to realize it, Mount Desert Island is a special place with a lot of special people. You all have the capability to impact the world in whichever way you choose.

If there’s one thing you remember from this speech, make sure it’s that you should always work towards a better you and that progress isn’t linear. We all have qualities about ourselves or circumstances that don’t meet our personal satisfaction. But if you’re dedicated to making a change while knowing there are bound to be bumps in the road, you’ll be unstoppable.

With that being said, let’s walk that stage!






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