Thursday, June 13, 2002

Cape sends off 107 graduates

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth celebrated the graduation of 107 high school students at Fort Williams Park Sunday with a message of hope from a former principal and a call to face the challenges of the coming century from the senior class president.

The principal for three of the graduates four years, Pete Dawson, gave the keynote address. Senior Class President Dan Shevenell spoke to graduates after they received their diplomas.

Principal Jeff Shedd presented awards to members of the senior class who exhibited excellence in various aspects of schoolwork, athletics and community service, saying the awardees were examples to their peers and to the town.

The ceremony also included an a capella performance by six graduates of contemporary pop songs. The processional and national anthem were among the last pieces of music conducted by long-time CEHS music director Norm Richardson, who is retiring.

Of the 107 graduates, 78 had grade point averages of 85 or above, 27 were members of the National Honor Society, and 13 were members of the Maroon Medal Society, which recognizes students involved in a wide range of activities.

Dawson, who spent the last year as principal of an American International School near Tel Aviv, spoke of his experience there. He spoke of the role hope plays in the lives of people all over the world, and noted that just when hope seems furthest from reach is when making the effort to hope is most important.

Known at CEHS for his attendance at school events and remembering the names of all of the students, Dawson changed his trademark saying, “Today is a great day to achieve.” Instead, he proposed, “Today is a great day to make a difference.”

Graduates David Greenwood and Mariah Nelson gave the senior address, extolling the virtues of an open campus for seniors on free periods, saying “there is, in fact, nothing to do in Cape Elizabeth, let alone in 50 minutes.”

The two spoke also about the broad usage of instant messaging. Greenwood said he expected most seniors had enabled “away” messages indicating they were not at their computers. Those messages, he said, would read, “I’m graduating right now. Be back at three.”

Class valedictorian Amanda Gann spoke of the achievements of members of the class, individually and as a group, citing sports, theater, mock trial and academic accomplishments, and noting, “We have the best barbecue team that the state of Maine has ever known.”

Gann closed with a note of hope, saying “We are the artists of the future. … I can’t wait to see what we’ll do,” before quoting a passage of Dr. Seuss’s book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

Shevenell quoted extensively from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic.” He exhorted his classmates to set goals and take hold of challenges, rather than criticize from afar those brave enough to face them. “Let us bravely shoulder the challenges that this century will surely put before us,” he said.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the graduates were preceded in their entry by 35 members of the high school faculty wearing academic regalia. The garb was paid for, in some cases, by the high school parents’ association, and represented, Shedd said, “the legitimizing of the diplomas that our graduates are about to receive.”