Alecia Baker, right, stands with classmate Racheal Talgo Thursday before the two graduated with 23 other members of the Wiscasset High School Class of 2019. (Darcie Moore / The Times Record)

WISCASSET — Wiscasset High School senior Alecia Baker fought back tears when she had her high school diploma in her grasp. By the time her family caught up with her in the library after the ceremony, the tears were flowing.

Baker was among 24 Wiscasset High graduates celebrating commencement Thursday evening. 

It’s a day that almost didn’t come for Baker. Before she started at Wiscasset High School in 2015, she was close to giving up on high school.

“I have some learning disabilities and at previous schools, they weren’t always accepting of that and wouldn’t give me the tools I needed to succeed,” Baker said. “I felt alone a lot of the time, and before I came here, I didn’t have friends.”

When she feels like she’s falling behind, she panics. If she feels down on herself, it becomes even more difficult to focus.

“I was at a point I was going to drop out, just before I came here,” she said after receiving her diploma. “I think the community made the difference more than anything and I didn’t feel judged for who I was. I felt I could be open and be who I am.”

Wiscasset High School seniors line up before their graduation ceremony Thursday night. (Darcie Moore / The Times Record)

Baker plans to attend Southern Maine Community College to study composite engineering. She plans to put her education to work right here in Maine.

It was a lot of work to get there, much of it outside of high school. When she first arrived at Wiscasset High School as a sophomore, she only had enough credits to be a freshman. She had to take summer school courses to catch up. 

“She’s had a long road,” Valarie Baker said of her daughter.

The triumph was bittersweet. Baker said she missed her grandfather, who died in March. The two were very close.

His presence was still at her graduation ceremony, however. Baker’s cap was decorated with his photo and a message: “I know you’re looking down from Heaven and you’re proud.”

Baker wasn’t the only student who spoke of hurdles on the way to a diploma.

Wiscasset High School senior Caleb Gabriele thanks classmates for being a second family Thursday during graduation. (Darcie Moore / The Times Record)

Caleb Gabriel spoke during the ceremony about the ups and downs of high school, and of the variety of talents and strengths of several classmates, and the memories he takes with him of their time together.

He also thanked his brother, Josh, for pushing him to be the best person he could in every aspect of life.

“Over the past couple of years, I personally have had to grow up pretty fast,” he said, “and it has been rough at times for not just me but my family too. And if it wasn’t for my second family sitting behind me, I wouldn’t have made it through those times or have turned out to be the young man you see before you. So thank you teachers and parents, but thank you, Class of 2019, for being who you are.”

 

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