Biddeford High School Senior Class President Grace Laverriere gets ready to lead the graduating Class of 2019 onto Waterhouse Field in Biddeford on Friday evening where 168 graduates received their diplomas. DINA MENDROS/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — “You’re enough,” “follow your passion,” and of course, to remember “Tiger Pride,” were just some of the messages delivered to the Biddeford High School Class of 2019 prior to receiving their diplomas and turning the tassels on their caps —signifying their transition to another stage of life — on Friday night at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

It was a warm and sunny night, as the soon-to-be graduates’ family and friends filling the bleachers, and the majority of their BHS teachers and school administration sitting on the field listened to the speakers, heard the performance of the BHS Biddeford Singers and watched as 168 graduates were presented with their diplomas by Mayor and School Board Chair Alan Casavant, Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Ray, BHS Principal Jeremie Sirois and Class Advisor Joyce Tarpy.

Those who were about to embark on the next chapter of their lives felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement.

“Today is the day,” graduate Ryan Brown said prior to the graduation ceremony. “It’s nuts. I’m excited, a little bit nervous, but mostly excited.” Brown said he is heading for Marine Corps boot camp in August.

The high school experience was “quick”, Brown said. “It went by in a snap of a finger. … I made a lot of good memories, good friends, good teachers.”

Graduate Patricia Martin said she was “doing okay” prior to receiving her diploma.

Biddeford High School graduate, Ryan Brown, center, is surrounded by family prior to the graduation of the Biddeford Class of 2019. DINA MENDROS/Journal Tribune

“(I’m) a little nervous, but okay,” she said.

Martin, who plans to study liberal arts at Southern Maine Community College, isn’t sure what she plans to do for the future, and was still somewhat focused on her recent past on Friday. “I’m going to miss my high school years,” she said. “The community, how we worked together to create so many memories we want to remember.”

Casavant said he enjoys attending BHS graduates as a representative of the School Committee, the city and the City Council. “It’s one of those days of optimism, a day of dreams and hopes … it’s good for the community.”

There were a number speakers who hope to impart some words of reflection and advice to the Class of 2019. First was Class President Grace Laverriere and her main message was one of Tiger Pride.

“The tradition of Tiger Pride is something we’ve all heard,” Laverriere said. And though the city and graduating seniors have and will go through a lot of changes, “the one thing that remains is the same Tiger Pride,” she said. “Our lives are about to change immensely,” she said, “but our Tiger Pride” will continue to connect the class.

Student Council President Margaret Behen talked about the importance of high school as a time to experiment, take risks and think about future goals. But, she said, it can also contain disappointment if someone doesn’t get the grades they hope for, get a lead in the musical or make the Varsity team. Those challenges can make people feel that they are “not enough.”

However, Behen said, a high GPA and accolades “do not equate to our self worth.”  Being kind and thoughtful are more important, she said, and told her classmates “I hope you know, no matter what the circumstances, you are always, unconditionally, enough.”

Pittsburgh Penguins hockey player and Biddeford High School alumni Brian Dumoulin speaks at the BHS graduation on Friday at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford. DINA MENDROS/Journal Tribune

The guest speaker at the graduate ceremony, whose name was kept under wraps until it was announced prior to his walking onto the stage, was hometown hero Brian Dumoulin. Dumoulin is a BHS alumni and professional ice hockey player with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.

When he was sitting in the graduates’ places, Dumoulin said, he never imagined himself coming back to the school that holds so many happy memories for him as a commencement speaker. But, he said, “it feels great to be back.”

Dumoulin had a few pieces of advice for the Class of 2019, which included “follow your passion, stay in the present and surround yourself with people who support you.”

He said he had a few challenges on his way to the NHL, including starting in the minor league, being called up to play in the major league and then sent back down to the minors, not once but several times.

But, Dumoulin said, that experience helped him become the player he is today and he has tried to use every setback as a learning experience. In addition, he said, having teachers and coaches who pushed him made him better. “We all need people who “push us to our max,” he said, “but we have to be willing to be pushed.”

Playing for the NHL was his passion, Dumoulin said, and he encouraged the graduates to find their passion and work hard for it.

“I firmly believe you can be anything you want to be, only if your dedicate yourself to it, chose what you’e most passionate about and give yourself to the fullest,” Dumoulin said.

— Managing Editor Dina Mendros can be contacted at 780-9014 or [email protected]

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