WLC ceremony held despite circumstances

Few graduations involve a parade of vehicles led by police escort to a drive-in movie theater. Typical graduations involve clapping and cheering on the accomplishments of those students donning their caps and gowns. However, this year came with the addition of car horns blaring in honor of 29 seniors who on Friday, ended their high school careers to embark on adult life.

While no one could have predicted this would be how these seniors would finish off high school, the community made the best of these challenging circumstances with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and found a way for students to still cross the stage and receive their diplomas in-person.

“Here we are,” Class President Jacob Boette said. “I suppose you can say being at the drive-in is an upgrade compared to the school gym. These times are hard and it will be remembered as historic.”

During his speech, Boette explained to his peers that there is no need to change for others, rather to just be themselves and people will come.

“Life isn’t what the world gives you,” Boette said. “Life is what you make of it and how you give back.”

As many other schools have either postponed or shifted these ceremonies to a virtual platform, the high school decided not to let a pandemic stand in the way of celebrating this milestone.

Principal Brian Bagley understands the second half of the school year has been a tremendous challenge for all, and that unfortunately, the students most affected by the pandemic are these seniors who sat in chairs in front of their vehicles, spaced apart in a lot facing a massive movie screen. Senior year is stressful enough during a normal year, pandemic aside. Now, these students have had to navigate these last nearly three months with schools closed down, a stay-at-home order in place and recommendations to physically distance from others and to wear face masks.

Bagley explained that these seniors missed prom, spring sports and socializing with their friends to in turn have their last bit of high school transition to sitting in front of a computer screen instead of sitting in classrooms with their friends.

However, not once did Bagley hear or see students complaining about the challenges facing them during these difficult months.

“I know it wasn’t easy,” Bagley said. “Instead, what I saw is a group of kids accepting the challenges they were facing and plowing forward, overcoming the adversity in front of them. Congratulations seniors, Class of 2020. I love you dearly. I will never forget the courage and strength that I witnessed firsthand.”

Between applying to colleges, working on senior projects and having all the other responsibilities that come with being a senior in high school, Salutatorian Kaitlin LoVerme said her class never thought a challenge this big would be present.

“Nobody ever imagined that we would spend our last day in school in the middle of March,” LoVerme said. However, when a challenge or difficult task is thrown at you, you have two options.”

She explained one can either run from it or face it head on. In this case, the challenge is completing school online and from home. LoVerme said that giving up when she and her peers were so close to being finished was not an option. Instead, LoVerme said they had to persevere through the difficulties until they reached the end. LoVerme also said in life there will be many obstacles to overcome, and that running from something hard is not always the best option as the problem is still going to be there. LoVerme explained that facing challenges head on is the better solution.

“Although our high school chapter is ending, our lives are just beginning,” LoVerme said. “We will face new challenges and will be given new opportunities.”

Moreover, Valedictorian Madeline Smith said that this is the Class of 2020’s hard earned accomplishment, citing how they finished their senior projects without being in school, still doing great work. Through the pandemic, she and her peers have had to learn how to continue their education and hard work online, taking responsibility for themselves to make sure to roll out of bed each day and stay on top of their work while continuing to grind for AP exams and finals.

“We’ve done this despite online learning and a historic time period that has shaken the world and changed the course of the year,” Smith said. “We have been and must continue to be resilient. The Class of 2020 has grown up in a time of uncertainty from 9/11 to a pandemic. We’ve been adaptable and now we need to be strong.”

Smith cited how it is unknown what entering the workforce will be like or if colleges will be holding in-person classes in the fall, explaining how her class will get through it as they have gotten through everything thus far.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.