LEWISTON — Ethan Lussier received his Lewiston High School diploma Tuesday during a special ceremony around his hospice bed.

Lewiston High School graduate Ethan Lussier, 18, center, is surrounded by his mother, Vicki Saunders, and his brother, Trevor Lussier, at Androscoggin Hospice House in Auburn. Ethan, who has battled brain tumors since he was a boy, received his diploma in a special ceremony Tuesday. Submitted photo

Lussier, 18, is at the Androscoggin Hospice House in Auburn. He has battled brain tumors since he was 7.

The ceremony was meaningful to Lussier and his family, according to his mother, Vicki Saunders.

“He’s the second one from his father’s side to graduate,” she said. “It was a big accomplishment for him.”

Wearing the traditional blue gown, the graduate was aware he had earned his diploma, his mother said.

There was a roomful when Lussier was awarded his diploma: Superintendent Bill Webster; Assistant Superintendent Shawn Chabot; Lewiston High School Assistant Principal Jay Dufour; Lussier’s mother; his father, Clint Lussier; his stepfather, Troy Ouellette; and brother, Trevor Lussier.

Webster and Dufour offered remarks. Dufour read a letter from Principal Jake Langlais.

“In my remarks, I traced Ethan’s school career, beginning at McMahon in 2005,” Webster said. “He went through sixth grade there, then to LMS and then LHS.”

Chabot was an administrator at all three of Lussier’s schools and remembers him from kindergarten, when he had to chase young Ethan in the halls.

Webster said Lussier earned high grades in high school: 92 in chemistry, 99 in introduction to songwriting; 97 in creative writing.
Saunders said it was especially nice to see Chabot at the ceremony. She added that as her son progressed from elementary to middle to high school, Chabot seemed to follow.

“He used to tease him that he was stalking him,” she said.

Chabot used to tease Lussier, saying, ‘Toughen up,’” the mother said with a chuckle.

“Shawn’s great,” she said.

When Lussier was a third-grader at McMahon, his classmates organized fundraising, from opening piggy banks to a spaghetti supper, after symptoms of the brain tumor appeared. His mother said in a 2007 Sun Journal story that when her son was reading a book to his teacher, he began crying.

When she asked what was wrong, he said: ‘The words are blurry. I can’t see them.’”

He underwent treatments at multiple hospitals. Doctors were unable to remove all of the tumor.

For years, Ethan did well and regularly attended school, his mother said. He missed some of his freshman year at Lewiston High School but attended all of his sophomore and junior years.

“For the most part, he was a model student,” she said. “He really was very outgoing. He’d put himself out there to get to know people.”

His junior year, he did a lot of creative writing, coming up with song lyrics that told his story, his mother said.

Last year, he suffered a seizure. More tumors were discovered. His condition worsened.

On March 10, Lussier was moved to hospice care.

Jordyn Cunningham, Lussier’s friend and a high school student, requested the special graduation for him, his mother said.

“It was his dream to get his diploma,” Vicki Saunders said.

Despite his lengthy battle with illness, “he is an amazing person and fighter,” his mother said.

“He’s been an inspiration to many, many people in Lewiston and Portland,” where he was treated at the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, according to Saunders.

“He has a heart of gold,” she said. “He’s filled with potential. He would have made a big difference in the world, if given a chance.”

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