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Thinking makes it so
"Welcome to the real world" were the first words of the class song, "No Such Thing," by John Mayer, sung by graduates of Mountain Valley High School during commencement exercises last Thursday. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
RUMFORD -- "I ask all of you to reflect upon how you define yourselves, others and the world around you, and challenge you to begin to find the people and events in your life in a more positive light. Because nothing is neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
That was part of the message delivered by Katie Billings to her 84 Mountain Valley High School classmates during commencement exercises last Thursday.
Drawing from William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln for inspiration in her senior address, Billings said, "I would love to enlighten you all about some no-fail ways to survive the real world, I can't. Because I, like all of you, don't know what we're in for."
After class marshals Jacob Theriault and Abby Day led the graduates into Puiia Gymnaisum, Class President Alex Parent delivered the welcome. "Well now, we're finally here. We're graduating. It's a been a journey full of opportunity and success."
After thanking his family and teachers, he thanked his classmates.
"Without their support, I would not have had the honor of serving them for the past four years. It was quite a ride. There were bumps along the way, but I do not regret one minute of it."
Billings told students that while reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, "I came across a line that stood out to me. Shakespeare said, 'There's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' And as most of you reading Shakespeare do, I read the line over and over trying to make sense of it. Eventually, I broke down the quote to find a deeper meaning and I drew this conclusion -- Shakespeare means that no matter what person, opportunity or situation you're faced with, the only way it can be bad is if you define it that way."
"This stuck with me for a few days and I started to think about how changing the way to define situations can positively impact your life. Instead of treating dead ends as failures, look at them as opportunities for reforms. Instead of treating bad news as ways to ruin your day, look at them as learning experiences. And instead of treating bad people as enemies, look at them as a chance for you to make a difference," she said.
To the Class of 2012, Billings noted that while they can't change the situations thrown at them, they can change one thing -- the way they look at them.
"And being conscious of our outlook and how you classify situations can make all the difference. When faced with a failure, don't find it as an end. Because if you do, it will be."
"As President Lincoln once said, 'My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.'"
"Class of 2012, don't be content with your failures. Instead of marking failures as defeats and dead ends, mark them as gains and new opportunities. Because nothing on this earth is a failure unless you allow it to be," noted Billings.
She told her classmates, "Maybe we won't have control about what happens to us, but we ultimately still control our lives. Hard times may not be avoided, but it's how we respond to these hard times that determines our future and our happiness. During difficult situations, it will be easy to blame others for our losses. And in these times, you must remember, ultimately, we are always in control. If you are dedicated enough, work hard enough and are focused enough, you can and will achieve your goals. And if success does not come, do not place the blame elsewhere."
"When tempted to blame others, remember, no one person can stand in your way of goals and happiness unless that person is you, said Billings, who noted that this kind of attitude will make life a whole lot easier "beyond these doors and more importantly, a whole lot more fun."
Billings concluded her address by saying, "And though we are unknowing and incapable of controling what the real world has in store for us, we do have the power to decide how to perceive it."
After receiving their diplomas, Parent instructed the class to move their tassels from one side to another, indicating each was now a high school graduate. Then the caps were thrown in the air to loud cheers, followed by the singing of their class song, "No Such Thing," by John Mayer.
After graduation, most of the graduates got on a school bus to travel to Boothbay to participate in a night of food, games and other activities.
This concluded a busy week for the seniors, with a lot of activities scheduled to try to keep students safe. On Monday, a school-sponsored barbeque was held in the pouring rain. On Tuesday, many travled to Portland to shop at the Maine Mall or attend a movie. On Wednesday night, senior banquet was held in the gym.