Valedictorian Nora Mathews says the class of 2020 will have the opportunity to better the world. See more photos here.
LENOX, Mass. — Lenox Memorial High's graduation on a sunny Sunday was more like an evening at the drive-in.
The class of 2020 and their families gathered one final time in the school's parking lot for a graduation ceremony that was certainly memorable.
"Boy, after looking at his empty parking lot for three months I think it is outstanding to see parents, grandparents, family, friends, and the Lenox community sharing this beautiful day," Principal Michael Knybel said. "We are very lucky."
The ceremony was held while adhering to strict social distancing guidelines in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the closure of school buildings in mid-March. Local high schools have been doing some innovative ceremonies to make up for the class's forfeiture of so many senior year activities.
Some have been via video, spaced out on athletic fields, delayed until late summer or "drive-bys." For Lenox, it was drive-in as graduates sat with their families in the parking lot and the actual ceremony could be listened to on their radios.
Valedictorian Nora Mathews said it has been difficult missing out on all of the typical senior year practices and the class of 2020 had to find its own way to mark time.
"We have all had to find ways to make this final stretch feel special the disruption caused by COVID has prevented us from seeing friends and family and celebrating the lead up to graduation," she said. "We have all worked so hard ... we are trying to become adults and find our place in the world in a time when the whole country is faced with uncertainty."
Mathews said with the pandemic putting the country on pause and social justice at the forefront of everyone's minds, the class of 2020 has the opportunity to make the world a better place.
"I don't know how to fit all of the complicated feelings I am sure we all have been dealing with into one speech and I am not sure how to tie this year up in a neat bow," she said. "But I know this is an important moment and we all have a role to play."
Salutatorian Alexandra Hochfelder said she has always been ready for the next "big thing." She was fixated on entering high school and in high school was looking toward college. Now she's a bit distressed with the pandemic essentially stopping everything.
Salutatorian Alexandra Hochfelder tells her classmates they have proven they do not need instant gratification.
"Since I've always been on such a clear track in my life, the idea of having to pause has terrified me," she said. "I can't tell you that I've somehow learned to live in the moment or I have obtained a magical appreciation for nature or even that I've learned to accept uncertainty. I'm properly freaked out. However, the worst-case scenario has come and we're still here. That's got to stand for something."
She said the class of 2020's generation is often criticized for needing instant gratification. But with the future so uncertain, they "have proven the boomers wrong."
"We're in this state of limbo and, despite the discomfort, we're getting up every morning and taking on the day and we've proved the boomers wrong," she said. "Our gratification has been delayed indefinitely, but we're all here trying to find pockets of joy in our lives."
Class President Spencer Villinski and classmate Connor Schenk really reflected on the kindness of the class of 2020. Both joined the class of 2020 midstream but instantly felt right at home.
"I am eternally grateful to all of my graduating classmates who accepted me into their ranks and all the success that i have enjoyed was possible because of this incredible class," Villinski said. "I cannot wait to watch your incredible accomplishments for years to come."
"I never thought in my years being here I would be sitting on this podium giving a speech to some really great people," Schenk said. "People who helped, me people who extended their arms in friendship, people who I am proud of to be standing right here today with."
Interim Superintendent William Cameron said the class entered its senior year inhabiting one world and now will leave high school in an emerging different world with political turmoil and a pandemic.
Although there is no way to directly prepare for this new world he believes their education will guide them along.
"These aspects of a Lenox education have all helped each of you to become who you are," he said. "As you now move on what you make henceforth of who you are and how you deal with the challenges you will face will define who you ultimately will be."
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Lenox Couple Donates to Local Veterans Organization
LENOX, Mass. — The Matthew & Hannah Keator Family Foundation recently donated $25,000 to the Lenox VFW Conklin-Lane-Coakley Post 12079 in memory of Matthew's lifelong friend Army Sgt. Paul Kastrinakis.
"Sarge was one of my oldest friends and I made a promise to his family to do what we can to keep his memory alive and honor his service and patriotism to our country," Matthew said. "We hope that these funds help in some small way to offset expenses to our local military families."
Kastrinakis passed away on Feb. 7, 2019. The Keators, through working with their foundation and the Lenox VFW Post, have established a scholarship fund to be given out each year to members of the community with ties to the military.
Kastrinakis served for more than 20 years as a State Police trooper as well as a decorated Green Beret who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The board of directors of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Friday voted to start the winter sports season no earlier than Dec. 14 and to move wrestling to the spring in hopes that the sport will have a path to competitions later in 2021. click for more
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association voted to accept the recommendation of its Tournament Management Committee and not hold any postseason tournaments in the upcoming winter season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. click for more
On Friday morning, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association released the sport-specific modifications that on Thursday unanimously were approved by the associationís COVID-19 Task Force. click for more
The MIAA Board of Directors Wednesday morning approved a plan that moves football and other sports the commonwealth considers at a high-risk for COVID-19 transmission to a newly created Fall II season that will be wedged between the winter and spring. click for more