Phillip Potenziano is superintendent of Brunswick schools.

The calendar tells us that the school year is winding down, and we will soon bid adieu to the Class of 2023.

While we will miss our seniors as they leave Brunswick High School to begin the next stage of their life journey, graduation is a celebration, and we have much to celebrate.

Let me begin by saying congratulations to our graduates. You’ve completed 12 years of a rigorous public education and leave well prepared for what lies ahead, whether you’re going to college, trade school or the military or jumping right into the workforce.

It truly takes a village to raise a child. To families, friends, teachers, club advisors, coaches, school staff and all who have played a role in the growth and development of our students, thank you for unselfishly giving of yourselves. Education is an ecosystem in itself, requiring contributions from many to function smoothly. So, whether you’re a soccer parent, a math teacher or an educational technician or you maintain our facilities, drive a school bus, serve meals or care for the health of our students, thank you.

While the World Health Organization now tells us the pandemic is behind us, it’s not lost on me that this graduating class spent more than three-quarters of their high school days under its shadow. Remote learning, masking, COVID testing and social distancing disrupted the normal school routine unlike anything else seen in my lifetime. Yet our graduating seniors met the challenge with perseverance, determination and grit. I am incredibly proud of how they – and all our pre-K-12 students – responded.

And the impact of the pandemic extended beyond the logistical disruptions we all encountered. It also moved mental health to the forefront and, rightly so, increased our comfort with open discussions about challenges faced by both students and adults.


So it is in this spirit of openness and candor that I would like to share a few thoughts with out graduates that they might find useful as their next chapter begins in the coming months.

First, be present in the moment. Experts tell us that mindfulness leads to greater happiness and reduces stress. You can’t change yesterday, nor can you stop tomorrow, so focus on today and what you can control.

Stay connected with family and friends. As humans, we are social creatures, and a strong support system comes in handy as you face the challenges that life throws at you. Continue to make friends and build your networks as you go through life.

Recognize that it is OK to ask for help, whether you want to talk with a friend about a personal decision you face or feel that you should connect with a mental health professional about anxiety, depression or other concerns.

Finally, don’t compare yourself to others or to the unrealistic images you see on social media. Be yourself and you’ll do fine in life. The older I get, the more I understand that being who you are is a beautiful thing, and not worrying about what others think will provide a level of freedom many will never know.

Remember that you are unique and special. We are proud of you and all that you have accomplished, and we look forward to what lies ahead for you. Please come back and visit. #DragonPride.

I’ll close with a short note to students graduating from Junior High School. Congratulations to you, as well! Our teachers and staff are looking forward to welcoming you as the class of 2027. I know you, too, are going to do great things. Enjoy your summer, and we will see you at BHS in September.

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