Family, friends and community members gathered at an outdoor graduation ceremony the evening of June 11 for the Camden Hills Regional High School class of 2021.

Bypassing the norm of holding graduation inside allowed a larger group to attend the traditional rite of passage for the high school seniors.
The change was due to the challenge of planning graduation while some statewide pandemic restrictions were undergoing changes, and others were still in place.
At the same time, the ceremony fit perfectly with the kind of senior year 2021 graduates went through, as expressed by the class motto: When life gives you speed bumps, move them out of the way.
The ceremony also held to some of the time-honored traditions.

Class marshals Kate Knauer, left, and Sofia Mott lead the graduating seniors in a traditional march accompanied by the band playing Pomp and Circumstance. Susan Mustapich

Graduates entered at the back of Palmer Field in a double line. All were dressed in black robes, some with Summa Cum Laude gold cords, National Honor Society light blue stoles and with National Technical Honor Society dark blue stoles.
As the band, conducted by Craig Ouellette, played Pomp and Circumstance, seniors began their march in a precise, practiced step, where the right foot leads each time they move forward.
Led by class marshals Kate Knauer and Sofia Mott, they marched in unison across the field, through the standing and clapping audience and up into their seats.
Then, graduates and audience members stood with hands over their hearts as the Chamber Singers choral group, led by Director Kim Murphy, sang the Star-Spangled Banner.
Principal Shawn Carlson spoke with deep pride about the maturity, patience and strength the senior class demonstrated as they dealt with the year’s unforeseen circumstances.

Camden Hills Regional High School Class president Ava Baeza. Susan Mustapich

Class President Ava Baeza likened senior year to getting on the carnival rides at the Union Fair and experiencing everything from thrills to queasiness and getting stuck at the top. Listening to her speech, it was clear seniors found ways to move the speed bumps and have fun, strengthen bonds, look back and dream forward.
Salutatorian Claire Wyman and Valedictorian Jonathan McDevitt expressed gratitude for all the support they and their classmates have been given over the years from teachers, staff and administrators, and offered their own words of encouragement for all the graduates as they all enter a new phase of their lives.
Graduates listened to stories about life after graduation from Ben Dorr, Class of 2002 and Emily Seymour, Class of 2010, owners of Curator in Rockland. The couple talked about creating their personal definitions of success, making up and changing their minds about what they wanted to do, and travelling indirect routes to where they are today.
Graduates were presented their diplomas by Carlson and Superintendent Maria Libby. The presentation was followed by more remarks from senior class Treasurer Caroline Contento and Vice President Julian Blohm, and the Pomp and Circumstance recessional. Cool weather held steady under white and grey clouds throughout the event, and began to clear as the ceremony ended.