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Deering High School Holds 143rd Commencement on June 7

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Deering High School Holds 143rd Commencement on June 7
Posted on 06/07/2017
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Deering High School, which describes itself as the most diverse high school north of Boston, held its 143rd graduation exercises on Wednesday, June 7, at the Cross Insurance Arena. There were 225 members of the graduating Class of 2017.

Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana spoke about reasons Deering High School stands out, citing not only students’ academic and athletic achievements, but also the many community service projects students get involved in. He also noted, “As one of the most diverse high schools in New England, you embrace your diversity with pride.” Botana also read some comments from a survey in which students praised Deering teachers and other staff, including one that read: “Throughout my high school career, I have had many moments in which I'd felt that I was alone in a long fight, and the faculty at Deering high school made it very clear that I would not have to go it alone, and they all stood by my side in my hardships.”

As the new graduates prepared to set off for college or career, Principal Ira Waltz encouraged them to “stop, look back and smile” regarding their years at Deering. He also urged those leaving Maine to study to return to Portland, “making it your home.”

Waltz described the Class of 2017 as “kind and caring” and said he learned many things from them, including that “skin color, ethnic background or accent tell you nothing about an individual’s ability.”

Waltz invited graduating senior Dylantha Musonerwa, whom Waltz described as a creative writer and orator, to address her fellow students. Dylantha started her speech by thanking her mother, who had to flee Burundi with Dylantha and her siblings when Dylantha was a child, because the family’s lives were threatened. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today,” Dylantha told her mother, as the crowd gave the mother a standing ovation.

Dylantha also thanked Waltz and other faculty members and her classmates for making her time at Deering so special. She urged the Class of 2017 to “change the world, as I know you can and will.”

Salutatorian Joel Kahn said graduation is “the time of year when people feel the need to quote others.” Admitting he was a comics aficionado, he chose the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” which ran from 1985 to 1995, to quote. Joel said that Calvin once complained he disliked school because he didn’t get to read about dinosaurs. Joel said teachers at Deering made classes so interesting and relevant that “every class felt like we were learning about dinosaurs.”

He also said that when the comic strip ended, Calvin told his imaginary tiger friend Hobbes that it was “a magical world…let’s go explore it.” Joel told his classmates, “We made it to the real world, Class of 2017, let’s go explore it.”

Valedictorian Alex Smith told the class that graduation wasn’t about individuals. “Graduation is about us,” he said. He had solicited statements from his classmates to include in his speech, such as a quote by Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Alex also recounted how kind other Deering students had been when started his freshman year with a broken ankle that took months to heal. He said so many students rushed to open doors for him he had to sneak off to practice opening doors for himself in private. “It told me what kind of a place Deering is,” Alex said. His classmates, he said, were “at heart, very good people.”

The ceremony included live music performed by students and the presentation of diplomas. The arena’s seats were filled with students’ families and friends and school district staff. Other attendees included Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and Marnie Morrione, District 5 representative on the Portland Board of Public Education.

Click HERE to read about the DHS Class of 2017 Top Ten students.
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