2018-06-07 / Editorial

Congratulations in order for the classes of 2018

Beyond the Headlines
by Sen. Justin Chenette

Graduation. The marching practices. The cap and gowns. The tissue boxes.

It’s that time of year when we send off our high school graduates on to the next chapter of their lives. Closing one adventure for a series of new ones. It’s a time in one’s life that is mixed with feelings of excitement, anxiety and relief all at once. For many, senioritis hit months ago, yearning for the final moments as a student to be over with. That is until it actually happens and you realize the next time you go to a homecoming football game, you will be part of the general public, part of the alumni. It’s a weird feeling. As someone who graduated from Thornton Academy back in 2009, it didn’t sink in until the final days when I was cleaning out my office at TATV Channel 3. I put my life and soul into the program and the school and now it was coming to a close. The memories, friends and skills I learned though carried with me until this day.

It’s important we stop and reflect on the achievements of the next generation. Over the last few weeks, I spoke at the senior assemblies at Thornton Academy and Old Orchard Beach High School, awarded the valedictorians of both schools with official legislative sentiments and handed out college scholarships to some very deserving students.

Vincent Falardeau is valedictorian for the class of 2018 at Thornton Academy. Vincent might not remember this, but we actually met when he was an eighth grader at Saco Middle School. He had just won the Maine Geography Bee and was on his way to nationals. At the time I presented him a legislative sentiment recognizing this achievement. I knew then, this guy was going places. Vincent has been recognized as a National Merit finalist. Additionally, during his time at Thornton Academy, Vincent was a member of the TA Orchestra, String Quartet, Amnesty International Club, National Honor Society, twice went to the national competition for the Academic World Quest Geography Competition and Math Team. Anyone who wants to do more math after school is on a mission for success. Vincent will attend Middlebury College in Vermont to study geography, French and environmental science.

Megan Niedzwiecki is valedictorian for the class of 2018 at Old Orchard Beach High School. She has received high and highest honors throughout high school and has done just about everything possible. She was a member of the student council and was her class treasurer all four years of high school. Megan was inducted into the National Honors Society her junior year and has been a varsity soccer and basketball player all four years and served as captain of the basketball team her senior year. She was a state contender track and field athlete as well and served as captain of the team her junior and senior years. Megan was also involved with the Interact Club, Prom Committee, Spanish Club, International Club and Outing Club. She received the Dartmouth Alumni Club Book Award, as well as the Rotary Club Student of the Month. Along with these awards, she received the MPA Principal’s Award and the Western Maine Conference Award in soccer.

Katherine Dowling, a graduating senior at Thornton Academy, is our 2018 recipient of the Saco Main Street Scholarship. As president of this organization, it was important to me that we connect with students and assist them with their career goals. We should promote our downtown as a place for the next up and coming business owners. Katherine plans to study business at the University of Maine in Orono this fall. We plan to offer this $500 scholarship every year to a deserving Thornton Academy student.

As many of you heard I closed my nonprofit organization, the Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement, but I’ve replaced it with the Chenette Scholarship Fund as a way to continue to help the next generation attend and afford college. I will continue to offer the scholarships I’ve offered to students these past few years through this fund. This year’s Future Entrepreneur Scholarship of $500 goes to Dylan Boudreau of Old Orchard Beach High School. The scholarship is designed to encourage students to become entrepreneurs, business professionals or to enter hospitality management or tourism related fields, which is so crucial to the OOB economy. Dylan plans to major in business finance. After he has experience he said he wants to come back to our community and open a business.

I’m so proud of all of the students graduating this year. It really gives me hope for the future. My piece of advice to them? To vigorously pursue one’s passion no matter the adversity, roadblocks or naysayers that you’re faced with. Be the best version of you possible. To let your light shine brightest. This is your moment. This is your life. Have the courage to believe in yourself and chart your own unique course. The only limitations in life are the ones you set for yourself.

Justin Chenette is serving his first term as the youngest senator in the Maine Senate representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and Buxton. He previously served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Outside the Legislature, he is the owner of Chenette Media LLC, a marketing & public relations firm. Signupforlegislativeupdatesatwww.justinchenette.com or follow updates at www.Facebook/JustinChenette.

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