Dirigo senior lives by motto 'seek discomfort'
May 10—When Dirigo High School senior Abigail Therriault wants to learn something, she's going to learn it.
And she's not afraid to step out of her comfort zone to do it.
Therriault has always been more of an indoor person, but over the past couple of years she's been working to change that. She joined Dirigo's Nordic ski team during her junior year with no experience and decided to learn snowboarding this winter.
By the end of the season, she was successfully boarding down black diamond trails and through glades as a member of the Black Mountain junior ski patrol.
None of it was without a lot of falls, she said.
"I really liked the phrase 'seek discomfort,'" Therriault said. "That's kind of what I live by. I'm just always looking for something new to try, something fun."
When Therriault was named salutatorian of her class this spring, it was no surprise to Dirigo Spanish teacher Heidi Broomhall.
"I've been teaching for 28 years," she said. "I don't think I have ever met a student who is more self-directed in what she wants to learn than Abbey Therriault, honest to God."
Before starting Spanish in middle school, Therriault had already begun to learn the language on her own. And when a course conflict her junior year meant she couldn't take Spanish III, she was able to join the Spanish IV class her senior year after self-studying.
The Peru native is also a runner on Dirigo's cross country and track and field teams. She's made so many friends on opposing teams, she's been deemed an honorary unofficial member of three nearby track teams, Therriault shared happily.
"I used to be really, really shy and quiet, just like terrified of talking to people," she said. "But every time I push myself a little more, it gets a little easier."
Thus far, she's raced two half-marathons and will begin training for the 2023 Maine Marathon this summer.
She even started learning chess a couple of years ago, recently winning a beginner's tournament.
Living in the Dixfield area is really what you make of it, Therriault said.
"I haven't felt limited, because I'm always pushing myself to do more," she said. "We have a really strong sense of community here."
Therriault's journey is only getting started. After graduating in June, she plans to earn an emergency medical technician license this summer and begin studying nursing at Central Maine Community College in the fall.
She's especially interested in learning more about becoming an operating room nurse, or perhaps a travel nurse. The ability to attend the college tuition-free was the main factor in her selection, she said.
"I want something that's really going to challenge me," she said. "(Medical advancements in technology are) made every day, so they're just constantly learning. I want to make a difference in the world."
Broomhall has no doubt that Therriault will excel.
"(Abbey's) going to be a really good nurse, because she's going to want to know more and she's going to (learn more) on her own," Broomhall said. "(She understands that) if she knows more, her patients are going to be better served. She's going to be that person."