U.S. Sen. Angus King addresses Mt. Ararat High School graduates Sunday. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

U.S. Sen. Angus King made a surprise appearance at Mt. Ararat High School’s graduation Sunday, offering 10 bits of advice to the 164 seniors.

The most important?

“Take more risks,” said King, a Brunswick resident who previously lived in Topsham and whose sons, James and Duncan, graduated from Mt. Ararat. “When I was making a decision about whether to run for governor, I met an old man when I was just about your age, and he said, ‘You’re going to regret things about your life. See that you regret the things you did, not the things you didn’t do.’

Mt. Ararat class president Marisa Schultz speaks to graduating seniors. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

“Err on the side of action. You’re going to have regrets, but the saddest words in the English language are: ‘if only.’ ”

King, an independent, served as governor from 1995-2003. He has served as a U.S. senator since 2013 and has hinted he’s running for reelection.

King’s other words of wisdom ranged from the practical (keep a $20 bill on you at all times for an emergency; don’t put anything on the internet you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see) to the personal.


“Don’t get married … when in doubt,” King, who has been divorced, said to laughs. “Marriage is wonderful. It’s a great thing, but it has to be right. If it doesn’t feel right, if it isn’t right, hold off. Don’t make that lifetime commitment if you have doubts.”

For those graduates entering the workforce, King said, “Treat your first job as if it’s the most important you’ll ever have. Be the best at that they’ve ever seen. Impress people, make a difference, and it will serve you well the rest of your life.”

Mt. Ararat valedictorian Piper Dedek speaks at graduation. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

He added, “Value your friends and family, because in the end, they’re all you got. They’re the most important people. They’re going to make the difference in your life.”

Class president Marisa Schultz echoed King’s advice.

“Don’t allow yourself to live with regrets,” she said. “Tell the people around you that you love them. Be kind. Go on adventures. Work hard. Be goofy. And appreciate your surroundings.”

Valedictorian Piper Dedek urged classmates to celebrate themselves.


“Rejoice in this incredible moment of accomplishment we have worked so hard for,” she said. “Use this moment as a message and reminder that it is OK to celebrate yourself, whether anybody is watching you or not. So, when you ace a test in college, get hired for that job you’ve always wanted … consider taking yourself out for coffee (or) go get ice cream.”

Principal Chris Hoffman, who graduated from Mt. Ararat in 2003, said he considers the school part of his home.

“I learned much here. I met my wife here. I now work here,” he said. “If you’re going to call a place home, it’s going to take effort. You must invest in the place in order to call it your home. Home is hard work, but it’s worth it. We improve our own lives and make the world a better place by working hard for our homes and communities.

“I’m not here to tell you that Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell, Topsham, this school or this region must be your home. But I am here to tell you that in order to live your best life you need to find a home. You need to find a place you can invest in. A place you can settle down in. A place you can live in comfort.

“We must devote ourselves to home.”

Royal Kloberdans (guitar) and Gavin Burbank (drums) perform “School’s Out.” Jason Claffey / The Times Record

The Mt. Ararat Treble Choir performs the national anthem. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

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