Following a two-year hiatus, Freeport High School graduation was held on home turf on Sunday, and the conditions proved ideal for an outdoor ceremony.

David Watts, musical director and senior class adviser, took a little credit for the conditions as the sun-splashed crowd looked on at the lacrosse/soccer field. Freeport High had held graduation the past two years at Merrill Auditorium in Portland.

“Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy this day, that I personally ordered, I’ll tell you,” said Watts, whose daughter, Sarah, was one of 123 seniors and six exchange students from around the world to pick up their diplomas.

He made it a point to welcome all Durham, Freeport and Pownal residents to the commencement.

“I’ve had the great pleasure of advising these kids for four years,” Watts said. “They’re not kids anymore.”

Watts was the only faculty speaker at the graduation. The students designed how they wanted graduation to look, which meant that the speeches all were by students. Teachers chose the featured speaker, Alana Franklin, based on written submissions.

Sarah Watts, president of the class of 2015, did the farewell address, while class officers Taylor Schenker, treasurer; and Abby Gray, secretary, also spoke.

Ryder Bennell and Pamela Ferreras, class marshals, led the processional. Gray called for a standing ovation for Watts. Schenker noted the graduates had put in six hours a day for 13 years to earn their diplomas. Freeport High students turned in more than 10,000 volunteer hours, she said.

Franklin, who was born in southern China, thanked her adoptive family for giving her a chance to succeed. Franklin said that Freeport High has thoroughly prepared the class of 2015 for the outside world.

“I think we should be proud to have made it here in one piece,” Franklin said. “Welcome to this joyous occasion. Freeport’s intimate class size means what we have become is as connected to the people as we have to this brick building itself.”

Franklin, who will attend Wheaton College next fall, said that teachers, coaches, advisers, custodians, lunchroom staff and parents all worked to make high school work for she and her classmates.

“More than anything today,” she said, “we feel gratitude. I thank my adoptive family for being the anchor to my life.”

Franklin wished all success to her classmates.

“We are not one thing,” she said. “We are a collection of everything that has happened to us. We are fearless now.”

Ginifir Giddinge shares a long hug with her daughter, Bailie Humphrey, during the rose ceremony at the beginning of the graduation. Photo by Rich ObreyAlayna Frey and Alexis Erlandson shoot cellphone selfies before the ceremony.Joey Minieri selects a rose to deliver during the graduation.Class marshals Ryder Bennell and Pamela Ferreras lead the class of 2015 from the high school to the ceremony. Photos by Rich ObreySarah Watts, right, is the senior class president. She played guitar and sang during the flower ceremony, and made the closing speech. Her mother, Tracy, left, helped organize the post-graduation events. And her father, David Watts, is a music teacher and senior class adviser.Freeport High School Class of 2015 graduates on a sunny day behind the school.


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