PARIS — Former Congressman Mike Michaud, D-Maine, intends to tell the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Class cf 2015 that there are no limits.
“I want to encourage graduates to go after what ever they want,” Michaud said in a telephone interview Friday. “Don’t let the naysayers say you can’t do anything. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Principal Ted Moccia announced at last week’s School Administrative District 17 Board of Directors meeting that Michaud has accepted the school’s invitation to be the commencement speaker at the June 6 graduation ceremony.
Michaud will join the ranks of other notable commencement speakers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Scott Allen (2014), American luger and Olympian Julia Clukey (2013), among others who have stood on the podium in Gouin Field to inspire and direct the 200-plus young graduates each year.
Michaud is no stranger to Oxford Hills. Not only does he have a nephew in the area but two great-nephews — one at Rowe Elementary School and the other a seventh grader at Oxford Hills Middle School.
In his 12 years representing Maine’s Second District as a congressman in Washington, D.C., he has appeared in parades, at local businesses, at veterans programs, and much more.
In Congress, Michaud became known as an advocate for veterans and for fair-trade policies — issues he continues to work on following his departure from Washington in December. His calender is still full of speaking engagements across the state and country, where he continues to advocate for economic development and veterans issues. Michaud said he is also continuing to help move a plan forward to overhaul the Veterans Administration in Washington that he and his staff presented before he left office.
Michaud has also spent time in the Oxford Hills School District, talking to students about his humble beginnings in the mill town of Medway — a town he compares to the Norway and Paris area — his two decades with the Great Northern Paper Co., his rise in local politics and later as a representative in Congress.
“A lot of people said I couldn’t do it because I lived in the wrong part of the state. I wasn’t a millionaire, I wasn’t an attorney, there’s no way that a mill worker was going to get elected to the U.S. Congress,” Michaud told a group of Oxford Hills Middle School students in December 2013.
Newspaper reports say that while he was a student at Schenck High School in East Millinocket, Michaud was elected to the student council, was statistician for the high school basketball team and earned the senior class’s superlative award for “friendliest” student, among other achievements.
He is looking forward to speaking to Oxford Hills students again. This time, as a commencement speaker.
But ask him if he remembers who his own high school commencement speaker was and he is stumped.
“I don’t. He or she must have talked too long,” he chuckled.
School officials in East Millinocket say they don’t believe there was a commencement speaker that year.
Graduation ceremonies will begin on Saturday, June 6 at 7 p.m. in Gouin Athletic Complex on Alpine Street.