School community takes in Wiscasset’s graduation plans

Sat, 05/02/2020 - 7:00am

    Viewers at checked out Principal Charles Lomonte’s letter to Wiscasset Middle High School seniors’ families in big numbers – 4,000-plus in the first few days. And over the week, Wiscasset Newspaper reached out by text, email and phone to two longtime WMHS staff members and a senior and her father for their thoughts on the plans for graduation June 11.

    “I have been very impressed by what the administration has lined up for our seniors,” Technology Coordinator/VHS Site Coordinator/Student Council Advisor Deb Pooler said in text responses. The Class of 1971 member is a co-lead advisor for the Class of 2020.

    “We have some amazing kids who deserve a real celebration of all they have accomplished in their high school careers,” Pooler said. “Despite this horrible COVID-19 pandemic, this class is going to go on to do great things. They are going on to colleges and into the workplace and they will make a huge difference. This class has been a strong class and will continue to be. I feel sad that they had to have alternate plans for graduation, but I know that our school and community will do everything possible to make this celebration resonate with pride and support for this class to make a positive and meaningful memory for our kids while ensuring the safety of everyone involved.”

    Teacher Ralph Keyes has been to 32 Wiscasset high graduations. Asked about the plans for this year’s, Keyes responded by email: “I suppose it is one of few possible alternatives, none of which can diminish the disappointment the seniors and their families are feeling. The Wiscasset High School graduation has always been a formal ceremony, but it is also a very personal celebration of the kids and their accomplishments ... Each (ceremony) has had the same formal components, but each has been as different as the kids are different.

    “We are all in crisis at the moment,” Keyes continued. “It's easy to look at the big picture and dismiss this change as a small sacrifice. To the seniors though, this is the big picture. This is a huge loss for them, and we must not dismiss the grief and loss they are feeling. Yes, every other high school senior is feeling the same loss, but this is their loss ... They are all feeling it.  It is also a big loss to the school staff. We come to know these kids when they are 14, and we grow as they do over their time with us. Spring of the senior year is the time to celebrate their growth and look forward, with them, to what they will do next.  It is very sad,” he said about how this spring has unfolded with the pandemic.
    The pandemic, with nurses part of the front line, has made senior Kateleen Trask all the more certain of her plans after graduation: She wants to go to Southern Maine Community College to study to be a nurse. “It made me want to do it more,” Trask, just back in from a walk, said in a phone interview Saturday.
    What does she think of the plans for graduation? “I think it’s better than not having one ... I didn’t know what they were going to do.”
    Her father, Alna Fire Chief Mike Trask, said about the plans, “I don’t mind having the social distancing, and having it outside’s all a great idea. I’m not a big fan of a procession of cars going by. At some point, we’ve got to get back to normal ... I’m happy that they’re at least doing something for them. No question. I think they should. It’s too bad for the kids that are graduating that don’t get their opportunity to get the full show.”
    As for his daughter’s plans, he said her wanting to be a nurse surprised him “from the get-go. And being surprised was long before this (pandemic) came along. So I think it’s great.”