Lincoln Academy’s graduating seniors celebrated a full week of activities leading up to Commencement on Thursday June 4. Gradation events are a Lincoln Academy tradition, starting with Class Night on the Monday evening before graduation.
At Class Night, seniors are given awards, including over $150,000 worth of scholarship money for college. These scholarships are given annually and come from a variety of sources: endowed funds, bequests, and community organizations such as local Lions and Rotary Clubs. Lincoln Academy faculty also give out awards for excellent scholarship in each department, including academic departments, performing and visual arts, and athletics.
On Wednesday, traditionally the day before Graduation, seniors participate in Senior Thank You Day, volunteering with organizations and schools all over Lincoln County. This year students did yard work, decorating and organizing in elementary school classrooms and libraries, cleaning at the FARMS Community Kitchen, and washing fire trucks, among other tasks.
After volunteering all morning on Wednesday June 3, LA seniors returned to campus, where they were treated to a cookout courtesy of the Alumni Council and Development Office, welcoming them to their new status as LA Alumni. Each senior got a free LA Alumni t-shirt, and enjoyed a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, and baked desserts. “This is a new LA tradition, started last year,” said Associate Head for Advancement Matt Goetting. “We get to congratulate our seniors and welcome our newest alumni at the same time.”
Later that evening seniors met downtown, next to the Lincoln Theater, to process through downtown Damariscotta, across the bridge, into Newcastle, and up Academy Hill. Parents, faculty, and community members lined the streets to congratulate the seniors and wish them well (as well as take photographs) as the seniors marched by. Once back on campus, seniors marched into the gym and sat for the Baccalaureate service.
“The Baccalaureate service is traditionally religious,” said Head of School David Sturdevant in his introductory remarks. “Also, it is often in Latin. Don’t worry, though. We will be speaking English tonight.” The four speakers are traditionally selected by the senior class to give speeches of farewell. This year seniors selected maintenance staff member Steve Bixby, English teacher and department chair Bryan Manahan, performing arts teacher Griff Braley, and substitute teacher and grandmother of graduating senior Greg Anderson, Sue DeCoster.
Each speaker had a different message for the seniors, but all spoke with affection for the Class of 2015. “I have known all of you since you got here as freshmen and couldn’t find the gym,” remembered Bixby. “Now you are all grown up, and heading out into the world, and I wish you the best.”
Mr. Manahan encouraged students not to specialize so much that they fail to be well-rounded, and quoted from a list by Robert Heinlein of skills every adult should have, which ranged from skinning a hog, to comforting the dying, to cooking a tasty meal. “I hope you all become experts in your fields, but there is value in being balanced human beings with a variety of skills. The world today seems to ask us to adapt, to be flexible and to be ready for what comes. I hope Lincoln has provided you with the foundation needed to become full human beings.”
Mr. Braley encouraged graduates to embrace the hard questions in life, to not avoid depth with the typical adolescent responses of “whatever and “it is what it is. He advised seniors to dig deeper than that. “One more day and you take your last waltz down the aisle, leaving LA behind. What if you leave “whatever” and “it is what it is” behind, as well? Just lay it down, right here. Ask the hard questions. Look UP, look IN, look OUT. Go be something. Take care of yourself. Find good people and work hard.”
Finally, Ms. DeCoster encouraged the seniors to learn the basics, like how to do their own laundry. “Your mother isn’t going to college with you, you know!”
Baccalaureate was the last chance for adults to impart some wisdom to the Lincoln Academy Class of 2015 before they graduated on June 4. “The traditions and rituals of Lincoln Academy are one of its strengths,” said Head of School David Sturdevant. “We are one of the oldest schools in the country. Not many high schools have the kind of history we do, and keeping these traditions alive is one way to honor that history.”