BAR HARBOR — “The most complete human being is one who learns continuously, develops a thick skin and comes to love life through experience,” College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins told the 112 graduating seniors at Mount Desert Island High School on Sunday.
He urged graduates to surround themselves with “as many diverse mentors as possible” and to be “aware of and value how we are all shaped by the world around us.”
Collins said they are fortunate that their lives will be forever shaped by their experience on Mount Desert Island. “We are so incredibly privileged to be part of this remarkable place,” he said.
The student speakers for the commencement ceremony were graduating seniors Helena Munson and Will Greene.
“I am so proud to call myself a member of the class of 2015. We are some of the most diverse, unique and inspiring people, said Munson. “I know that individually and collectively, we will make an incredible impact on the world.”
“Nobody ever got anything done by saying it couldn’t be done,” Greene said in his rousing, upbeat speech. “We need … everybody in this room to think they can make a difference, however big or small, by being kind, being cooperative, being tolerant, being grateful and staying positive. Class of 2015, we’ve got this!”
College scholarships totaling $412,000 were awarded to graduating seniors during the high school’s academic recognition and awards night ceremony June 11.That is one of the largest totals ever, according to guidance office staff member Mary Wallace, who coordinates the scholarship program.
“This is a huge amount of money to have available for them,” Wallace said. “They are so fortunate. We are so fortunate.” See the list here.
The largest scholarship is $6,500 for each of four years of college – a total of $26,000.
“That went to three students this year,” Wallace said. “So, that’s a huge chunk of money.”
Some of the scholarships are funded by trusts that pre-date MDI High School, which graduated its first class in 1969.
“Every year, we get some new scholarships,” Wallace said. “And very few come and go. Most of them, once they’re here, they’re here.”
Some scholarships are created by families in memory of a loved one. Some are sponsored by organizations, others by businesses.
Other scholarships are for students who plan to pursue a particular field of study such as engineering, art or nursing. A few are restricted to male or female students or to residents of a particular town.
“But the majority are for anyone from anywhere who is going to college,” Wallace said.
About half of the recipients are chosen by the scholarship sponsors from among the qualified applicants. The other half are chosen by the high school’s scholarship committee, which includes representatives of administration, guidance and the learning areas such as math, science and social studies.
This year, as usual, a number of students received multiple scholarships. Wallace said that most students who apply receive at least one.
“The biggest problem is getting them to apply,” she said. “They are more and more apathetic every year.”
This year, 71 students – well over half of the senior class – qualified for a Fred C. Lynam Scholarship, but only 38 applied.
“If you live on Mount Desert Island, are in the top 75 percent of your class and you are going to college, you get $1,000, no questions asked,” Wallace said. “There were 33 this year who didn’t apply who would have gotten it.”
She said some scholarship sponsors require applicants to write a short essay, but some students seem to think that’s too much trouble.
“There are students who are right into it, who are doing it perfectly,” Wallace said. “But more and more don’t seem to take it seriously.”
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