GORHAM – Michael Sullivan Jr., 17, who graduates magna cum laude from Gorham High School on Sunday, has a passion for the environment.

At Gorham High School, Sullivan achieved recognition as a scholar, musician, athlete and student leader.

The son of Michael and Anatoli Sullivan, he is among 203 Gorham seniors receiving diplomas in commence exercises at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland.

Sullivan said the future holds many challenges plus opportunities.

“It’s bittersweet,” Sullivan said about graduating high school.

This fall, Sullivan will continue his education at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland where he’ll study civil and environmental engineering, along with music.

Consistently a high honor roll student at Gorham, he praised the school that prepared him for the future. “The teachers were just fantastic all four years,” Sullivan said.

He was honored as Gorham’s Maine Principals’ Association Award winner this year.

“I was blown away,” Sullivan said when he heard the news that he’d been selected for the award by Gorham High School Principal Chris Record.

Sullivan played soccer and also tennis as a freshman and again this year as a senior. He plays baritone saxophone and received an all-state musician award as a junior and senior along with the Louis Armstrong jazz award.

As a senior, he was elected president of the Student Council and has served as co-chairman of the School Council. Also this year, he was elected vice president of the National Honor Society at the school. He was inducted into the National Honor Society as a sophomore.

“He has achieved in every possible way (academic/music/sports/leadership) and he is a great young man with a neat future plan,” Record said.

Gorham English teacher Dave Patterson said on Wednesday, “Beyond being naturally gifted with great intelligence, he (Sullivan) is dedicated to his studies beyond most of his peers.”

Sullivan this week explained his interest in a unique agricultural process – vertical farming. He said it would reduce transportation costs and carbon output. Sullivan said vertical farming could utilize multi-storied greenhouses, and he envisioned giant, abandoned brick factories being converted into farming centers in urban settings.

He said vertical farming is practiced in The Netherlands, Germany and China.

“My plan for the future is vertical farming,” Sullivan said. “The challenge is to make it affordable and practical.”

By the year 2050, Sullivan said, the world population would rise by an additional three billion people.

“All these people need food,” he said.

As an example, Sullivan said, a garden on the roof of Gorham High School could provide all the produce for its cafeteria. He’s reading “The Vertical Farm,” by ecologist Dickson Despommier.

When asked whom he would most like to meet, Sullivan said it was Despommier.

Patterson said Sullivan “flat out cares about engaging with the world he lives in. Einstein stated, ‘There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.’ I believe that Mike lives life with the understanding that everything is a miracle, and, therefore, infinitely fascinating.”

Between his studies and school activities, Sullivan has maintained a busy schedule. He said an ongoing challenge for him has been time management and he said homework has taken a lot of his time.

“I’ve never had a study hall,” he said.

He chose to fill gaps in his core curriculum classes with electives, and took an alternative energy in Maine class. He likes architectural drawing and art class.

“I love all subjects equally,” he said. “Learning is my thing.”

Sullivan made time for community service work that included refereeing soccer for Special Olympics. He enjoys skiing, walks on the beach and spending time with his family. His sister, Katherine Sullivan, will be a freshman this fall.

Sunday’s commencement exercises mark a new beginning for Sullivan and his classmates, as they leave Gorham High School behind to face the challenges the school prepared them to meet.

“I’m going to miss the faculty and Mr. Record. He’s done so much for me,” Sullivan said.

“Learning is my thing,” says Gorham High School graduating senior Michael Sullivan Jr.

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