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Portland High School Holds 195th Commencement Ceremony

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Portland High School Holds 195th Commencement Ceremony
Posted on 06/08/2016
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Portland High School (PHS), the second oldest operating public high school in the United States, held its 195th graduation exercises on Wednesday, June 8, at Merrill Auditorium. There were 191 graduates in the Class of 2016.

The ceremony included remarks by Interim Portland Superintendent Jeanne Crocker, live music performed by students, the presentation of awards and diplomas and addresses by students. The auditorium was packed with students’ families and friends and school district staff.

Valedictorian Chessa Hoekstra said students’ experiences at PHS form “a mosaic” of moments that will stay with them all their lives. Among the moments she cited were special connections with fellow students and teachers and the Bulldogs’ win of the Class AA boys’ basketball state championship in February. “This time defines us now and will shape who we become in the future,” she said.

She also said the school’s diversity is a vital part of the mosaic – students at the school come from more than 40 countries and speak more than 20 languages. At graduation this year, for the first time, the district was able to provide simultaneous translation of the ceremony in the most common languages spoken by students’ families to those that requested it.

Salutatorian Brad Ravenelle urged students to “not get lost in the pursuit of glory but rather seek to be remembered as the best of men and the best of women.”

Ahmed Mohamed recited a poem about lifelong learning titled, “Always Be A Student.” He also quoted a Somali saying, which he translated into English as, “Where there is no knowledge, there is no life.”

PHS students won many accolades, awards and scholarships but Principal Deborah Migneault said the “most prestigious” is the Brown Memorial Medal. The silver medal was established in the 1800s by Portland businessman J.B. Brown to honor his son and 10 of the medals are awarded at graduation – five to outstanding female students and five to outstanding male students. This year’s winners are: Chessa Hoekstra; Brad Ravenelle; Hannah Eglinton; Nicholas Stasium; Merritt Ryan; Benjamin Freedman; Bailey Ruesch; Ryan Donaldson; Cecelia Botting; and Jonah Bradenday.

The PHS Class of 2016 also named its Top Ten students. Click here to find out more about those students.

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