BAR HARBOR— Parents, grandparents and siblings crowded into the Mount Desert Island High School gym Sunday afternoon to applaud as 117 members of the Class of 2018 received their diplomas.
It was the school’s 50th commencement ceremony.
This year’s commencement speaker was Max Mason, a member of the MDI High Class of 2013 who earned a degree in sport management and economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
After working for a year in player development in the Baltimore Orioles organization, he realized that his heart was in education. He returned home last winter and now is an ed tech and coach at Mount Desert Elementary School.
Mason told the Class of 2018 that, in preparing for his commencement address, he asked his second-grade students what advice he should impart.
One student wrote, “Believe in someone.”
“That is so powerful. It is so much easier to navigate life when you approach it from the mindset that we all have redeeming qualities, we all have good within us,” Mason said. “I challenge you to find that within yourself and within others you value. Everyone has something to offer.”
Another of his young charges suggested that he tell the graduates, “If you stay bright, you will stay happy.”
“Quite literally, if you are bright and cheerful, others tend to reciprocate, creating a pattern of uplifting and feel-good moments,” Mason said. “I also take this idea as a challenge: Challenge the mind. Be a lifelong learner.”
A third young student wrote that he should tell the graduates, “Smile every day.”
“Maybe there’s real value in turning to your inner second-grader,” Mason concluded, “Maybe there’s real value in believing in someone. Maybe that starts with yourself.”