Leah Green is a member of the senior class at Old Orchard Beach High School, and is poised to graduate with her classmates June 6 at Regina Field, June 7 if there’s rain. Courtesy Photo

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — When Leah Green was 7 years old, she spent her birthday in a hospital, having surgery.

It made an impression; a big one, so much so that Green, who will graduate with fellow classmates from Old Orchard Beach High school on June 6, plans to enter the medical field this coming fall.

“I’m going to the University of Southern Maine for nursing school,” said Green by phone on a recent day. “When I was younger, I had a tumor (which turned out to be benign). I was in the hospital for two weeks. It was such an eyeopener.”

She said the nurses assigned to her, knowing it was her birthday, decorated her hospital room, doing all they could to ensure she was not only recovering well from surgery, but got to enjoy her birthday too, as much as possible.

“That’s going above and beyond,” said Green. She said she knew that was something she wanted to do too.

Green is among about 65 members of the Class of 2021. Graduation is set for 1 p.m. Sunday, June 6 on Regina Field on the high school campus; 1 p.m. on Monday if there’s rain the previous day.

Senior Ryan Johnson is valedictorian of the class, while Duffy Rose is salutatorian.

Superintendent John Suttie said there are no limits on how many people can attend, though there will be limits on how many family members of each senior may sit in the bleachers. Remaining family members and friends will be able to view the ceremony from other designated spots around the field.

Students at Old Orchard Beach High School have been attending in-person classes four days a week for some time. Wednesdays are remote days in the school schedule. Green said Wednesdays are a good time to catch up on school work.

“I’m happy we go to school in-person,” she said. “This being senior year, things would be a lot different if we weren’t.”

There have been some changes. She plays field hockey in the fall and was team captain her junior and senior year, and given the pandemic, the schedule was a bit different. There was only one game this year, and that was not “super official,” she recalled.

Green has other ways to fill her days and has worked as a guest service coordinator for each of the past for summers at Wild Acres Campground, making reservations and checking in guests as they arrive.

“At school, I’ve enjoying painting and art classes the past four years, and I took an English course at York County Community College so I don’t have to take it my first year in college,” she said. As well, Green is a member of the Interact team at school and attended the Rotary youth leadership program. “That opened a lot of doors to me,” she said.

As to the future, Green said she’s always known what she wanted to do, to be in the medical field, and more recently decided that nursing was her choice. The pandemic, she said, has made her realize how much work is involved — but she knows that in any field, there are obstacles to be overcome, “and this happened to be a big one,” she said.

Green said she’s enjoyed her time in the Old Orchard Beach school system. “Everyone’s really a family, everyone has each other’s back,” she said, especially so during the pandemic. The first few months of the pandemic in 2020 were hard, she said, with schools closed everywhere. Students who had been so socially active were so alone, she recalled of that time.

This year, she said, everyone has worked hard to give seniors the best year they could, and over this past weekend, the class was to get together for a combination prom and senior night event, with a meal and games, at River Wind Farm in Saco.

Green has attended Old Orchard Beach schools since she was grade 2.

“We’re so close with everyone,” said Green. “It really is a family, I couldn’t emphasize that more, seeing (classmates) every day since second grade.”

Watch for senior profiles for Biddeford High School and Thornton Academy in Saco in the weeks ahead.

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