Morse Senior Class President Isabel Strelneck marches through a crowd of applauding teachers on Saturday, June 11. John Terhune / The Times Record

Quotes from English poets William Blake and Alfred Tennyson rang out across Edward J. McMann Field in Bath Saturday afternoon, but the words of the departing senior class defined Morse High School’s student-led graduation ceremony.

The event came a day after what class president Isabel Strelneck described as a “hard night in our community,” when a fire caused extensive damage to Dike Newell elementary school. The Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the fire, and a local man was arrested and charged with arson.

Yet Strelneck and a half-dozen other student speakers focused on celebrating the graduating class and their new membership to Morse’s passionate alumni association.

“I know when we return for our alumni banquets and our alumni weekends in five years and 10 years and 50 years, our rhythm will click right back into place and our show will keep going on,” Strelneck said.

“Our connection to Morse High School will persist,” agreed valedictorian Iris Hennin. “We will be proud alumni and carry what you’ve taught us to new places.”

Friends and family members of the seniors, including former Morse students celebrating alumni weekend, gathered on and around McMann Field to cheer on the graduates as they slowly marched through two columns of their applauding teachers.


Members of the Morse High School Concert band entertain friends and family of the graduates shortly before the event on Saturday, June 11. John Terhune / The Times Record

“Just a few minutes ago, it was eighth grade graduation, kindergarten graduation,” reminisced Kim Owen,” mother of Madeline Owen. “This flew by.”

Student speaker Hadley Wong and school nurse Katrina Barter, winner of the Dr. Patricia Ames Distinguished Teacher Award, spoke of the challenges of high school life during a pandemic.

Students Isaac Ensel and Emma Beauregard highlighted quarantine’s silver lining of self-discovery, which helped Ensel realize his passion for film and Beauregard uncover a number of personal truths big and small.

“For me, it was that I love winter spice tea, that “Law and Order: SVU” is by far the best “Law and Order,” that I like women, and I even learned how to calm myself down when I’m anxious by thinking in French,” Beauregard said. “If I didn’t have those lonely days during quarantine when my parents were both at work or those nights not sleeping because I was too worried about homework and my family getting sick, I don’t know if I ever would have moved past chamomile tea packets – or men.”

Yet perhaps the most common refrain from the speakers was the wide diversity of interests and backgrounds of the graduating class.

A car at McMann Field shares a message for Morse seniors ahead of the school’s June 11 graduation ceremony. John Terhune / The Times Record

“Here today are artists, athletes, early graduates, vocational students and more, each having contributed their unique perspectives to Morse,” said Salutatorian Lilly Clifford. “Like grains of sand, we have collectively influenced the culture and values of the school.”

Student speaker Lora LaRochelle put it a different way.

“If we were all the same,” she said, quoting her fisherman father, “We’d run into each other.”

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