Valedictorian Francisco Alicandri spoke of the three Rs of respect, responsibility and resilience the school had instilled in them. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It was graduation certainly like no other since the first Drury ceremony 144 years before.
Vehicles festooned with balloons and congratulatory messages drove up to "Mother Drury on the hill"; from each a graduate disembarked to walk the blue carpet to collect plaques and diplomas set out on a table as any scholarships and awards were announced, posed for pictures, got back into the vehicle and down the hill.
Above the front steps to the school was this year's class quote: Time 2 Make History, and We Did!
That's a graduation in the age of pandemic.
"I never would have foreseen that March would have been our last day to see each other," said valedictorian Francisco Alicandri in a prerecorded speech. "In this time of COVID-19, everything seems so uncertain. We're forced to live and love in creative ways. Shaking hands and hugging can be dangerous weapons but distancing is an act of kindness and love."
It was a challenging time, and Alicandri said he appreciated the efforts of everyone involved to make this graduation come to pass.
One thing that set this class apart is "we're the first to experience a stark transition to a virtual world. We're the first to have an unusual graduation ceremony and celebration. We're the first to enter the workforce, or college, with a degree of uncertainty in our routines. And we're the first to face a deadly challenge that is shaking the globe."
At the same time, this is an opportunity, Alicandri said, to innovate and invent at "an unprecedented rate."
"That is what makes us, the class of 2020, special," he said, telling his classmates that they should not think that the novel coronavirus will overshadow their four years of schooling.
"Just the fact that we're here shows that our accomplishments have been especially recognized," he said. "And regardless of what type of graduation ceremony we have, that will not erase all that we have accomplished."
The class should keep in mind the three Rs that Drury had instilled in them: Respect, responsibility and resilience.
"No matter where we are and what we do, if we do it with respect for ourselves and for others, we will build our success, and trust and well-being. Responsibility helps us avoid chaos and gain respect from others and our resilience is an incredible inner strength to help overcome difficulty, to think positively and tackle problems without fear," Alicandri said.
"Let's put these three Rs together and combine it with our passion to adapt and overcome."
Alicandri and fellow class Vice President Isabel Lescarbeau read the names of graduates and their awards and scholarships. Principal Timothy Callahan, Mayor Thomas Bernard, Superintendent Barbara Malkas and Director of Curriculum & Instruction Stephanie Kopala stood behind the table for photos with the graduates. The mayor did sneak in one hand off because he told the graduate, "I promised your mother I would hand you your diploma."
Class advisor and music teacher Christopher Caproni conducted a symphony of honking vehicles, parents with cameras and graduates, moving them along, advising them what to expect, zipping up their gowns and calming their nerves.
"Most of us knew that our years of high school wouldn't quite live up to the expectations that 'High School Musical' created for us, but I don't think any of us expected it to look quite like this," said salutatorian and Class President Holly Boudreau in her remarks. Perhaps if they'd known in mid-March they'd be saying goodbye to favorite teachers and underclassmen, "I'm sure that it would have looked a lot less like us leaving for a three-day getaway. Take that as a lesson to never take those little things for granted."
The class had coincidentally chosen the "time 2 make history" quote for their T-shirts, she said. "However, I'm sure that we have many more things in mind than going down in history as a class who missed the last half of their senior year."
The class of 2020 was filled with dedicated student ambassadors, champion cheerleaders and basketball players, talented singers, performers and musicians, and leaders who tried to better the lives of those around them.
"Truly, a class full of so many role models for those in the grades below us. Now just because we officially end our time here in the Devil's Den after tonight, does not mean they stop watching, stop cheering, or stop hoping the best for all of us," Boudreau said. "We all know that the Drury faculty has done everything to prepare us for what is to come. And, in reality, you are prepared with the ups and downs we have found our way through, you have shown that you have what it takes to become whatever it is you want."
Salutatorian and Class President
Holly Boudreau told the class not
to take things for granted.
The ceremony was preceded by a vehicle parade through the city with a police escort before winding its way up the hill past posters of the 83 graduates to the high school. Teachers had a place to sit — 6 feet apart — to speak to the graduates as they slowly rolled by. A spot to take family photos by a balloon "D" with a pitchfork was farther down the hill. The entire ceremony was recorded.
"Normally, the words of our alma mater would ring out from the Bucky Bullett Gym as friends, family members, teachers, school and district leaders, and your classmates and friends cheered you on, and let you know how proud we all are of you," said Bernard, chairman of the School Committee, in his recorded speech. "We all know that 2020 has been anything but normal, and that the class of 2020 is having a graduation season like no other. I want to begin by thanking all of you for your resilience and your sacrifice, and for adapting to the demands of a public health crisis that has changed many things in a short period of time."
He offered some advice as the class of 2020 enters a difficult world with new challenges, a world rocked not just by disease but by injustice, inequality and racism. Vote in an informed and responsible matter, don't become discourage by failures and falls, and find that taking the harder path can bring purpose and even joy.
"The duty to confront the reality of our world will not disappear when you receive your diploma," the mayor said. 'If anything, you must now shoulder a greater responsibility to be engaged community members, and to decide if and how you want to make change in the world."
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It is no longer necessary to use boiled water or bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food. The City of North Adams apologizes for any inconvenience and thanks you for your patience.
The areas specifically identified as potentially affected were:
River Street, Yale Street, Upper Meadow Street, Williams Street, North Street, Cady Street, Pitt Street, Chesbro Avenue, Chase Avenue, North Holden Street, Dover Street, Miner Street, Wal-Mart, and McCann Technical School.
The Department of Public Services released a statement at 2:30 pm on Friday urging residents and businesses whose water was affected by the water main break on River Street to boil water before consumption. click for more
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