PORTLAND – Bonny Eagle High School senior class president K. Eliot Douin stood before his classmates Friday and challenged them to rise above the naysayers in the audience and in the community who “want to see our school go down.”

“People make fun of our school. They say our school is a joke,” Douin said in his address during commencement at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“But this school is not going down. This community is not going down,” he said, to a thunderous standing ovation.

Douin’s remarks referred to last year’s Bonny Eagle graduation, which was marred by an administrative crackdown on student celebrations during the ceremony.

The fallout drew national media attention, and gave a black eye to the high school in Standish and its community of supporters.

Friday’s ceremony, in which 273 graduates received diplomas, went off without a hitch. Dressed in gowns of green and white, the students made their way across the stage and got their diplomas and handshakes of congratulations from Principal Beth Schultz.

After all of the graduates completed the walk and turned their tassels to the other side of their mortarboards, colorful balloons dropped from the ceiling and set off a boisterous celebration.

In her remarks, Schultz quoted the great blues guitar player B.B. King, who said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”

Schultz told the students: “Do not stop learning. There’s a bright future in front of you, but the future rushing forward will bring changes, so do not stop learning. We need you to help us make the world a better place. We have faith in you.”

Jeff Neal, a Bonny Eagle history teacher, delivered the graduation address. He told the students that he could relate to how they felt Friday night. Twenty-three years earlier, he was in their shoes, graduating from Bonny Eagle wearing the same colored gown and marching across the same stage.

Neal told the students that life is fleeting, and it’s up to them as individuals to make the most of it. “I believe from the pit of my soul that each and every one of you has the capacity to do something extraordinary,” he said. “I envy you. You are on the threshold of remarkable times in your lives.”

During Friday’s ceremony, students received scholarships totaling $71,000. Keeley M. Cronin was named class salutatorian and Benjamin Hall was named class valedictorian.

The ceremony also recognized the accomplishments of Kathryn R. McGonagle, who died in a car accident during the school year. Three of McGonagle’s friends received her diploma in her memory.

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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