The Searsport District High School class of 2012 may be described as ambitious, smart and lively individuals, but they also know that where they are from does not define who they will become.

As the 36 graduates anxiously waited to be awarded their diplomas they listened as a few of their fellow classmates imparted some final words of advice. Class President Arthur Leighton spent a few moments thanking the friends and family who turned out to support the graduates as well as offering a few observations about his class.

“As I’ve walked the halls the past few weeks, I can’t help but compare it to a senior village. We’re leaving this life and moving on to the next one,” Leighton said. “You’ve all become special friends to me, and it’s up to us to stay in contact once we’re done here.

Senior Rachel Barnes reminisced about the time her class competed against the underclassmen in the school song competition, and how that moment defined what set the class of 2012 apart from others.

“We screamed until our voices cracked and screeched. The screaming ended and the senior class had defeated all of the underclassmen. It was our time to win, and win we did,” Barnes said. “On that Friday, I learned something very particular about the people I’ve been going to school with for years. I learned that we could work together and accomplish great things and prove to people that we could do anything we really set [our] minds to.”

The final speaker, Senior Hannah Betit, gave a heartfelt speech about the challenges she and her classmates would face as they pursue higher education, military careers or choose to join the workforce. She explained how students from poorer schools tend to have higher rates of dropouts, but the class of 2012 bucked that trend with a 100 percent graduation rate.

“We weren’t supposed to succeed, we weren’t supposed to get good grades or pass our finals, or be able to plan for our lives after high school. Or we at least had the odds stacked against us the whole time. But here we are, throwing the statistic in the faces of all those who doubted us. Here we are, succeeding,” Betit said.

Betit concluded her speech with a plea to her classmates to keep moving forward even if they aren’t sure they can succeed.

“When faced with struggles and self-doubt all you need is a maybe. Sometimes a maybe will come from someone around us, a professor, a lieutenant, a parent, a friend telling us that maybe, just maybe, we can do it,” Betit said. “But what if we don’t get that maybe from anyone around us? That’s when we have to get that maybe from within ourselves, dig deep if we have to… take that maybe, believe in that maybe, and run with it.”

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or