The Old Orchard Beach High School Class of 2019 awaits the presentation of diplomas during the school’s 136th Commencement Exercise at Seaside Pavilion on Sunday, June 2. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — For 52 new graduates of Old Orchard Beach High School, a new chapter has begun for those members of the Class of 2019.

As each graduate crossed the stage and received his or her diploma in the 136th Commencement Exercise ceremony for Old Orchard Beach High School conducted Sunday afternoon at the Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach, parents, friends and family members stood, clapped and cheered for their achievement, while some wiped away tears in an emotional moment.

RSU 21 Superintendent John Suttie and RSU 23 School Board Chair David Boudreau presented each graduate with their diploma, which represented the end of their high school experience.

Catherine Hall earned her diploma at the event and will now attend York County Community College to study culinary arts.

“I’ll be working for most 0f the summer, but I want to spend as much time as I can on the beach when I can find the time,” Hall said.

She said for her the graduation ceremony was bittersweet as she doesn’t know when she’ll see many of her classmates again.

“It’s like the end of a chapter in a way, but the start of a new era for all of us,” Hall said.

This year’s Old Orchard Beach High School Valedictorian, Rose Cyr, told those attending the graduation ceremony that the lessons she learned in school are invaluable.

“It’s been a long four years, but everything we learned along the way was worth it,” Cyr said. “My advice is to stay positive, be positive and believe in yourself.”

Faculty speaker at the graduation was Old Orchard Beach High School Social Studies teacher Chad Denis, who shared with the graduates that his very first day as a student teacher in a classroom was on Sept. 11, 2001.

The three top graduates for the Old Orchard Beach high School Class of 2019 are, from left, Honor Essayist Morgan Rooney, Salutatorian Amy Nguyen, and Valedictorian Rose Cyr. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

“It was certainly a day I will never forget,” Denis said. “You don’t forget days like that one was.”

He said that his journey to teach in Old Orchard Beach was filled with years of twists and turns, but now he feels at home and is wrapping up his third year of teaching at the high school.

He told the graduates that he’s learned three things since coming to work at Old Orchard Beach High School.

“First, great things never come from comfort zones,” he said. “Second, everything happens for a reason, and third, live in a place that feels like home and it allows you to be who you want to to be.”

Assistant Principal Eric Hanson commended the graduates for their academic achievements and recognized all of the names of Old Orchard Beach High graduates who won 49 different college scholarships this year amounting to a total of $82,000.

Aiden Davenport earned his diploma with the group on Sunday, but spent the 2018-2019 school year attending business management classes at the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology after his first three years of study at Old Orchard Beach High School.

“This summer I’m going to spend a lot of time working,” Davenport said. “Then I’m probably going to Central Maine Community College in Auburn.”

Davenport said his goal is to purchase local property within two years and become a landlord while going into business for himself.

He said that to him the best part of finishing high school is actually not the formal graduation event and getting to wear a cap and gown as a high school graduate.

“I think the ceremony is nice and all, but I have family coming here from Pennsylvania and New Jersey for this and that means a lot more to me,” Davenport said.

The graduation ceremony also included speeches by 2019 Salutatorian Amy Nguyen and 2019 Honor Essayist Morgan Rooney.

Music for the event was provided by the Old Orchard Beach High School Band under the direction of Mark Manduca.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 or by email at [email protected]

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