Wiscasset High School Class of 2020 graduate Natalie Potter waves the checkered flag while speaking at the graduation ceremony held Friday at Wiscasset Speedway. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

WISCASSET — Forty members of the Wiscasset High School Class of 2020 wore masks with their caps and gowns Friday night in the first-ever graduation ceremony at Wiscasset Speedway.

Family members stayed in their vehicles parked inside the racetrack, cheering and honking horns instead of applauding. School buildings in the Midcoast closed in mid-March, and schools have been forced to move their graduation ceremonies from traditional venues to larger outdoor spaces in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Wiscasset Speedway donated the use of its track Friday.

Valedictorian Kaitlyn Main speaks at the Wiscasset High School Class of 2020 graduation Friday evening. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

“I can imagine that many of us didn’t take advantage of March 13,” valedictorian Kaitlyn Main said to her classmates. “We didn’t know it was our last day of in-person high school ever, so why would we? We didn’t know the majority of second semester of senior year would be spent at home, learning online and only seeing our classmates and teachers through Zoom and Google Meetings. We didn’t know we wouldn’t be able to hug our friends goodbye or thank teachers in person one last time.”

The graduates had their prom and post-graduation events canceled due to the pandemic but made the best of a bad situation Friday.

“I knew we wanted to race out of high school as fast as possible, but we are really kicking it up a gear here at the racetrack,” Natalie Potter told classmates during her speech. “On a more serious note, there are always going to be times when the world will knock you down and test your strength. However, it is how you choose to get back up that defines you and shows your true character.”

Wiscasset High School Class of 2020 graduate Damion Colby holds up his diploma Friday at the school’s graduation ceremony. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

As Potter finished her speech, she told classmates their generation has dealt with tragedy and uncertainty over and over as they advanced through their youth. It is this generation that can make a change, create new ideas, discover cures and find a way to live peacefully, she said.

Potter raised a checkered flag and told classmates, “Let us all see the checkered flag and take our final lap of high school with pride, hope and the mindset that we are all champions and can handle anything life may throw at us.”

Members of the Wiscasset High School Class of 2020 stand to get their diplomas Friday during a graduation ceremony held at Wiscasset Speedway. Darcie Moore / The Times Record



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