In front of hundreds of family and friends, 146 students marched into Camden Hills Regional High School's gymnasium the evening of June 9 and marched out graduates.

The graduation included opening remarks from Class President Abby Chamberlin, who compared the undergraduate years to a Dorman's ice cream sundae; a passionate speech from Salutatorian Molly Mann, a valedictory address from Emma Trapani, who related her years in track and field to finishing high school's great race; and a Hawaiian blessing and advice for the future from three Camden Hills alumni, who urged the graduates to explore the world and try new things. The three led the crowd in a Hawaiian blessing for the future (see video below).

Due to on-and-off rain in the forecast, the graduates marched into the gymnasium through the hallway doors instead of the side doors by the athletic fields, as is traditionally done.

Principal Robert Sampson, who is serving his first and only year as head of Camden Hills Regional High School, welcomed everyone to the ceremony and read notes left by parents on their children's pictures in the school hallway; some were encouraging, but many were funny and drew cheers from the audience.

“Today, we have reached the finish line of a great relay race. The team that stands here is Camden Hills class of 2017,” said Trapani. “We pushed one another; we supported one another. We ran with one another, together, as one team.”

Trapani said while usually one sees the finish line as the end, she and her classmates are actually at the rise of their next great race. She encouraged her classmates to take the strength and pride they have learned at Camden Hills, put it toward their own individual events and turn it into something else to be proud of.

“Today, the red and white strands that once knit together this class will move in different directions, into different communities. Yet, we are still connected; we are supported. We are strong, each fiber enforcing our strength and ability to give,” she said.

Mann thanked the parents, sisters and brothers, families, teachers, coaches and mentors, friends and those who have passed on and then thanked her classmates.

“This is the beginning of the rest of our lives," she said. "While we will inevitably begin to branch out in new places and with new experiences, let us not forget our roots, right here, with each other.”

Camden Hills alumni Seth Brown, Corey McLean and Tyler Dunham talked about life after high school, as the three have spent time making surfing films in Cuba. The three encouraged the graduates not to be afraid to try new experiences and visit new places. If anything, they said, it would make life just a little more interesting.

Dunham then led the entire crowd in a Hawaiian blessing.

Of the 146 graduates, 107 are heading off to college, five have joined the military, four are entering technical programs, six will join the workforce, 11 are taking a gap year and 13 are undecided. A total of $240,000 in scholarships were handed out at the awards night on June 8 and another $40,000-plus to post graduates.

Courier Publications Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.