BAR HARBOR — The largest senior class in a decade at Mount Desert Island High School graduated Sunday, with 133 students receiving diplomas.
The commencement speaker was Chris Clemens, who graduated from MDI High in 2013 and enrolled in the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). In February 2016, he was walking down a street when he was hit by two cars and suffered multiple life-threatening injuries, including a severe traumatic brain injury. Following three years of slow, intensive rehabilitation, he graduated from RIT last month.
Speaking from personal experience, Clemens told the MDI High class of 2019 that to achieve their goals, “You need hard work, but you can’t do it without the support around you.”
He asked the seniors to look around and acknowledge “all the people who have gotten you where you are right now…whether that be friends, family, parents…
“You need this tight community of people to rise and fall with you, people to build you up when you’re feeling low, to catch you when you slip…for a truly successful life.”
Brooke Long, chosen by her classmates as one of two senior class speakers, said that, as a result of their high school experience, “We have friends who feel like brothers and sisters and teachers who feel like family.
“We leave our intricate webs to go forth and build new ones that will be just as strong.
“When I ask almost any adult, they say high school is the best years of our entire lives. I say, ‘Watch us. We’re about to go make some great ones.’”
Ivy Sanborn, selected by the faculty to be the other senior class speaker, told her classmates, “Whatever it is that you’re drawn to, don’t let it slip away.
“You have your whole life to explore different avenues and find your calling.
“Whatever it is that fuels you, eat it. Don’t go hungry.”
Sanborn said she is grateful to have grown up in such an accepting community.
“At MDI, it doesn’t matter if you’re…black or if you’re white, gay or straight, Jewish or Christian, American or from far away, disabled or not. You don’t need anyone to label you; you can just be you.”
Quite a few of the graduating seniors decorated the top of their mortarboards for Sunday’s commencement ceremony, some with colorful designs and some with slogans such as “Adventure Awaits” and “To be continued…”
In keeping with tradition, at the end of the ceremony the new graduates filled the air above them with beach balls and confetti.