GUS RECKNAGEL, 19, of Bath, receives a little help and encouragement from his mother, Monica Recknagel, before Sunday’s graduation ceremony for the Morse High School class of 2012 at McMann Field in Bath.

GUS RECKNAGEL, 19, of Bath, receives a little help and encouragement from his mother, Monica Recknagel, before Sunday’s graduation ceremony for the Morse High School class of 2012 at McMann Field in Bath.

BATH — The Morse High School Shipbuilders added 145 members to the school’s ranks of alumni Sunday afternoon as the class of 2012 graduated beneath blue skies on McMann Field.

Student speakers offered words of wisdom to their classmates as they set out on the great “hike” of life, and spoke of their pride in their school and each other.

“Unless you have stood in my shoes or sat in my seat, you cannot comprehend the pride that comes with being able to identify with this body as a whole,” senior class president Brianna Bigelow said. “It is the proudest moment of my life to be able to stand before you representing the Morse High School class of 2012.”

Bigelow recalled a day in March when her brother was diagnosed with leukemia, and how proud she felt of her fellow seniors when they filled the audience in Morse’s Montgomery Theatre during a benefit for him.

“Thanks to this class, I am proud to say that I am no longer just Brianna Bigelow,” she concluded. “From this day forward, I will forever be Brianna Bigelow, Shipbuilder, class of 2012.”

In a speech tempered at times with jokes and delivered while wearing a fake nose, valedictorian Max Rawson also lauded his fellow graduates for standing up for something they believed in — as recently as last week. He urged them to “experience the present” despite ever-present distractions, and to pursue life’s more difficult route.

Rawson told of a visit to Popham Beach when he was younger, during which two friends briefly disappeared in the fog. He recalled “sprinting” toward a lifeguard station for help, noting of the experience, “It got to a point where the beach wasn’t even there anymore. … I couldn’t feel my feet, my legs or my body. The only thought or feeling that I held was this need to find a lifeguard. … Every ounce of my concentration, my energy, and my being was being poured into what I was doing. I was immersed in one single action.”

With distractions such as cellphones, laptops, televisions, Facebook and YouTube, “it seems like today we all get caught up in what we’re going to do,” Rawson said, “(but) if you’re only thinking about what you’re going to do next, then you’re never actually experiencing things, are you? You’re missing out on the present.”

He urged his classmates to take “the hard route” in life, likening that path to a hike up Mt. Adams in New Hampshire. During a recent climb, Rawson came over a summit and saw Mt. Washington in the distance, he said.

While he said he doesn’t really like hiking, Rawson said, “The moment you get to the top, you look around, and look down at the tiny town, and you understand what humans are capable of, and more importantly, you understand what you, yourself, are capable of.”

Rawson left his audience with words of praise for his graduating class, the members of which he said took a stand last week over something they believed was important.

“This past week, I’ve witnessed the people who sit behind me come together and support each other in a way I have never seen before,” Rawson told the audience Sunday.

Leaving McMann Field on Sunday, Rawson said his comments referred to this year’s senior class prank, which occurred overnight on Sunday, June 3 — and which Rawson said nearly resulted in the cancellation of the senior assembly and could have left at least one class member watching graduation from the stands.

That night, the seniors used a master key to gain access to the high school and moved every chair in the school into The Pit, Rawson said.

When the deed was discovered the following morning, seniors were given 15 minutes to put the chairs back, Rawson said — and managed to do so within about a half hour.

Rawson said the students did not reveal how they gained access to the building’s master key, despite the threat that the senior assembly would be canceled, or that one senior might not be allowed to march in the graduation ceremony. (She marched, Rawson said.)

“We found something that we cared about and that we wanted to fight for,” he told the audience Sunday afternoon, “and this … is something that you all should be incredibly proud of.”

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