SOUTH PORTLAND – The only roles assigned to adults in Sunday’s graduation ceremony at South Portland High School were introducing the graduates and handing out diplomas to the class of 2010.

The rest of the 90-minute ceremony was in the hands of the graduating seniors, who read essays, sang a song, and shared their words of wisdom with their classmates.

Relinquishing control of graduation to a group of teenagers also meant they could sneak a little fun into the ceremony, as beach balls and balloons sailed above the graduates’ heads.

Valedictorian Gregory Reinhold compared his class to the New England Patriots football team, which won its first Super Bowl in 2002. The Patriots won that game against the St. Louis Rams on a last-minute field goal.

“What truly amazed me about that team is how they went about winning. They may not have had the best talent, but they worked well as a team. Looking back at my life in South Portland I can see the similarities between my class and the Patriots,” Reinhold said.

“Sadly, this team must break up and go our own way,” he added. “We will set out across the globe to pursue our dreams.”

The ceremony was held in the George E. Beal gymnasium because of rainy conditions.

Female graduates wore white caps and gowns while the boys wore red — the colors of the school whose sports teams are called the Red Riots.

Prior to the ceremony, Assistant Principal Laurie Wood said 196 students were scheduled to receive diplomas.

Wood said 90 percent of the senior class will pursue post-secondary education, including two- and four-year colleges or a certified vocational training program.

Fifty graduates plan to attend Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, she said.

Though students have been accepted at such schools as Yale and the University of Connecticut, Wood said “a lot of students have chosen to stay in Maine.”

Kaiya Hansen, a graduating senior, talked about the value of hard work and how luck can only get you so far in life. She also gave her fellow students a warning: “Don’t get too focused on other people’s successes or you’ll go crazy,” Hansen said.

Maxwell Berube, class salutatorian and competitive chess player, told a story about a tournament he thought he was one move away from winning. But his opponent checkmated him on his next move, sending him to defeat.

“My mistake: I lost sight of what my opponent was trying to do to beat me,” Berube said. “I needed to focus on the big picture and less on the little things.”



Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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