CAMDEN — It did not rain, as was in the forecast, and the sun even forced its warmth through the lingering clouds of a strong nor’easter to bless the Camden Hills Regional High School Class of 2023. And the graduates felt it, smiling broadly to the community as they marched June 5 along Route 1 through downtown Camden, an annual tradition that everyone loves.
Families and friends lined the sidewalks, cheering and clapping, while traffic self-diverted. Some drivers knew the score and zipped onto side streets; others, mostly from out of state, watched quizzically as the seniors, lead by Bagpiper Catherine Pearce and Class Marshals Benjamin Tohanczyn and Lauren Howland, appropriated the well-traveled highway for a ceremonial march from the Camden-Rockport Middle School to Cross Street, and down Route 1 to the Elm Street Congregational Church for the 2023 Baccalaureate.
The annual tradition marks the beginning of Graduation Week for the seniors at CHRHS, which is the public high school for Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport students.
This year, the storm that had pounded the Midcoast since Saturday with heavy rain and gusty winds, had abated enough for the Seniors to fix their mortar boards to their heads, clip their graduation gowns closed, and step into sensible shoes — sneakers, flats, sandals, boots – without worrying about getting soaked. Their joy and optimism filled downtown Camden, and well-wishers stepped outside businesses and bars to to cheer them all on to the church.
There, the Seniors and family settled into pews for for interdenominational prayer and thanks. The baccalaureate is an academic and spiritual tradition with roots in the Middle Ages, and honors education and learning. For Camden Hills, the tradition has continued for decades, with clergy representing the Chestnut Street Baptist, St. Thomas' Episcopal, John Street United Methodist and Congregational churches, as well as the Adas Yoshuron Synagogue and St. Brendan the Navigator Parish.
Rev. Adam Kohlstrom, Pastor of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church, and Stuart Finkelstein, of the Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, delivered Words for Seniors.
The hymns included “Simple Gifts”, the Shaker song, and the benediction was delivered by Fr. Divine Fossoh, of St. Brendan the Navigator Parish.
Graduation is to take place June 9, at 7 p.m., on the Palmer Field at the High School on Route 90 in Rockport.
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