READFIELD — Kents Hill School sent off 77 graduates Saturday morning under a sky so sunny that hundreds of proud relatives and friends moved rows of white chairs to shady locations.

The maroon- and white-clad graduates, however, sat on stage and smiled, their mortarboards shielding them from direct rays.

They heard their 2016 classmate Sarah Marie Arseneau of Sydney River, Nova Scotia, refer to each of them by name, citing their contributions to the class. Arseneau’s speech was peppered with references to hashtags and pop culture.

The senior speaker said she also prepared and placed individual notes for each student, adding that the “four years on the hill had definitely been challenging.”

The class of 2016 poses for photos Saturday in front of Bearce Hall before the graduation ceremony at Kents Hill School in Readfield.

The class of 2016 poses for photos Saturday in front of Bearce Hall before the graduation ceremony at Kents Hill School in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Staff photo by Joe Phelan

This was the 192nd commencement for the private, coed boarding school, which also accepts day students. The graduates came from eight countries and 17 U.S. states, and 21 were from Maine, according to a news release from the school.

William J. Brennan, the president of Maine Maritime Academy, gave the commencement address, recalling his time at Kents Hill School, where he was a member of the class of 1970, following his father, William, class of 1942, and leading the way for his son William, class of 2002.

Brennan, who has a commission as a rear admiral in the U.S. Merchant Service, has been head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, assistant U.S. secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and commissioner of Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. He is also a Kents Hill School trustee.

Brennan attributed his success to “happenstance and serendipity” and said he didn’t recognize his career path until he went to sea as a commercial fisherman.

Some among the graduates already have made their choices.

Luke Arsenault of Manchester, referenced by Arseneau as “towering above everyone” for his height but treating everyone equally, is headed to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in July to major in mechanical engineering and hoping to work in drug interdiction or as a pilot. Arsenault and Victoria Hatchell, of Readfield, shared the Rist Bonnefond Student of Principle Award, given to a graduate “who best embodies the core belief” of the school “that one man or woman of principle can always make a difference.”

The class of 2016 poses for photos Saturday in front of Bearce Hall before the graduation ceremony at Kents Hill School in Readfield.

The class of 2016 poses for photos Saturday in front of Bearce Hall before the graduation ceremony at Kents Hill School in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Ciara Hart of Wellesley, Massachusetts, will study arts and design at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after her three years at Kents Hill. She said she will spend her summer working and visiting family.

Kaylee Bilodeau of Winthrop received her diploma from her mother, Marlo Bonney, housekeeping supervisor, who has worked at Kents Hill School for 20 years. A school tradition allows parents who work at the school to present the diploma directly to their graduating children. About a half dozen graduates received their diplomas from a parent on Saturday.

Bonney gave her daughter a huge hug afterward, and they both smiled for the photographer.

“My sister (Ashalia) is coming next year as a freshman,” Bilodeau said before the commencement ceremony. Bilodeau plans to attend the University of Maine at Farmington, hoping to study arts and theater.

Chloe Thompson-Smith of Greenwich, Connecticut, posed with her mother, Jules Madison, in front of Bearce Hall, where sticks grounded large silver balloons shaped into the numerals 2016.

Thompson, who is heading to Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, to study sociology, said she will miss the school community. “We’re like a family here,” she said.

Madison said the family regularly visited Thompson Smith for every school event. “The staff are just so caring and nurturing here.”

Leo Washburn of Rockport said he plans to attend Husson University for business, but first he intends to take a gap year in the Caribbean, where he will work on sailboats.

Felix Beaulieu of Longueuil, Quebec, is heading to Concordia University, in neighboring Montreal, where he will study industrial engineering; but first he plans to work and earn enough money to finance a backpacking trip “all around the world.”

Five family members came from Quebec to watch Beaulieu get his diploma. They also will help him take all his belongings home. Dormitories at the boarding school were scheduled to close at 4 p.m. Saturday, and a number of vehicles parked on the campus were filled with contents from those dorm rooms.

Four other awards were given out at commencement:

• Anne Aiello McKee of Hallowell received the Lois Masterman Award for most exemplifying the philosophy “to be helpful to others and to make something useful of my life.”

• The Class of 1913 Award for the senior judged by faculty as having “exercised the greatest influence for good during the year” went to Willam J. Lafford, of Sackville, New Brunswick.

• The Luther and Lydia Sampson Award, given in memory of the school’s founders to a senior who excelled in the classroom and extracurricular activities, went to Sarah Elizabeth Williamson of Jefferson.

• The Knowles Prize in memory of a member of the class of 1885 for excellence in scholarship went to Owen T. MacDonald, of Hallowell.

Other awards were given out at an earlier ceremony.