About 3,000 people gathered in the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland to celebrate the graduation of Bonny Eagle’s seniors on Friday night.

The blasting of air-horns and the celebratory bawling of proud friends and family sounded throughout the night’s convocation, marking the momentous step each of the graduates were about to take as they received their degrees and graduated into adulthood.

The students, melting into a sea of green and white hats and gowns, wound their way through the auditorium to the stage in a long procession, where they were finally seated facing the massive crowd. Those in the audience held personalized signs above their heads and whistled piercingly to get the attention of students, as each name was read aloud to the delight of the spectators.

“I’m so happy… I’m going to cry,” said Susan Slocum, a resident of Standish and proud parent of graduate Daniel Slocum. “I think this is a great occasion,” said Daniel’s father, Philip. When asked what’s next for their newly graduated daughter, both parents said, “College,” simultaneously, as if this were a moot point beyond any discussion.

Among the crowd cheering on loved ones was Trey Gadbois of Portland, cousin of Gregory and Andre Gadbois-both of whom had the privilege of graduating together.

“I think it’s a great sight to see both cousins graduating,” he said. “Not many adults in our family graduated. It’s an honor to be here.”

Among the speakers on Friday night was guitar wielding class president Griffin Sherry, who took to the podium to usher in the class of 2006, and concluded the ceremony with seniors Maxwell Davis and Sean McCarthy, playing a rendition of “Walk with You,” originally performed by the band, Dispatch. During his speech, Sherry quoted Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and, even more poignantly, Bob Dylan-“The times, they are ‘a changin,'” he echoed to the thousands of spectators in the Civic Center.

Michael Kane, a social studies teacher and wrestling coach at Bonny Eagle High School, delivered the graduation address. In his speech, Kane rapped off dozens of names in the senior class, explaining how each student had driven him to become a better teacher and a better human being.

“You can’t underestimate teenagers,” he said.

Kane, in a welcomed gesture to those in the audience, asked the senior class to stand and applaud the hard work, immeasurable support and tested patience of the parents who were seated in the center of the auditorium.

During a musical interlude, Gina Cardamone, accompanied by Margaret McAdam, performed “Flying Free” by Don Besig, displaying her vocal talent, as well as her courage, to the thousands in attendance.

Bonny Eagle High School Principal Sheila Jepson commended the ceremony. “Oh, I thought it was just beautiful,” she said.

According to Jepson, this was the first year when the faculty marched with their students, allowing them to show the colors of their respective alma maters.

“I think it added a lot of dignity. It made it more formal,” she said.

“It’s an end of an era,” said Robert Bourget, a retiring gym teacher at Bonny Eagle High School and a resident of Standish, who joked about the change of tradition that allows the faculty to march with the students.

Before taking to the stage, many of the students expressed their excitement by talking about their future.

Graduate and Standish resident, Emily Larrabee, said she is attending Hudson College in the fall, a “very exciting” time in her life, she says, along with Seth Littlefield, who has enrolled in Thomas College in Waterville.

“I’m going to work,” exclaimed Craig Hutchins, who will join his friend and fellow Bonny Eagle graduate Andrew Webber in the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365-day-world.

In total, 256 students graduated on Friday night, with a total of 66 students graduating with honors, and 65 with high honors. Also, 104 scholarships, provided by various organizations and businesses and worth over $88,088, were awarded to the graduating class.

Parents look on as Bonny Eagle High School graduates accept diplomas. Among the 256 students who took to the stage, a total of 66 students graduated with honors and 65 with high honors. The graduate procession winds its way past proud parents seated front and center. Thousands of spectators were present on Friday night, packing the Cumberland Country Civic Center. Bonny Eagle faculty members David and Pamela Crabtree (math) and Robert Bourget (physical education) prepare for the ceremony. This was the first year when the faculty of Bonny Eagle High School marched with their students.Students mingle behind the stage before the procession. Many graduates talked excitedly about their future plans, some going off to college, some traveling the world, while others will be entering the workforce. From left, Ashley Perrone, Llia Dunham-Conway, Matthew Cabral, Eric Favreau and Jamie Ketch huddle together before taking to the stage for Bonny Eagle High SchoolFrom left, Carrie Brewster, Mallory Murphy, Cassandra Coste and Megan Burnell are among the 256 students preparing for the culmination of their high school career. In all, 104 scholarships, worth $88,088, were awarded on Friday night to the graduating class. Nothing but smiles: Donald Martel and Alexander Foster get psyched for graduation.

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