NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Drury High School had something of a do-over on Friday night as graduates and family members gathered at Joe Wolfe Field to have a second celebration.
The class of 2020's saying is "Time 2 Make History," something this class has certainly done already: the first Drury class go fully online for learning, to have a drive-by graduation, and to have two graduations.
The novel coronavirus pandemic had closed schools in March and forced some innovate forms of commencement and graduation, with many opting to go virtual or use a parade of cars to safely deposit the graduates and their families for a diploma pickup and photo.
Mayor Thomas Bernard had pledged there would be a time when the graduates could stand together, even if it was late in the summer. The first attempt on Wednesday was postponed because of rain forecast. But the time was definitely right this week, especially since the governor earlier on Friday lowered the attendance for outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 because of recurring hotspots of COVID-19.
The affair was more subdued — about 40, or just under half the class, attended — but the class of 2020 got to stand with their diplomas among their peers and have family and friends watch from the stands. At a distance, of course, as mask wearing and social distancing was in effect.
Zoe Daugherty, secretary of the class of 2020, said the year took a crazy twist that wasn't what they had envisioned for their senior year.
"We all have a vision of what our senior year will look like," she said. "The last first day of school, last homecoming, last year for sports, last band concert, last plays and musicals, last day in the school that for most people became a second home."
When Drury closed on that Friday in March, their was joy for a three-day weekend, and sleepovers at friends. But the long weekend turned into weeks and it began to affect their senior events, like the honor society ceremonies. Then spring sports and musicals, and senior pranks.
"We as a class were robbed of the last three months of our senior year," Daugherty said. "To some people, three months doesn't seem like much. But for us, those last three months were our final chances to spend time and make memories with the best people in the best place."
Yet the class rose through its sorrow and disappointment in "true Blue Devil fashion" to gather now as alumni, knowing the last four years, and especially the last five months, have prepared them for their journey.
Her brother gave her $100 bill and a 2020 penny as a graduation gift, telling her the penny was more important because it was the difference between having 100 and having 99.99.
"Giving one penny's less of effort or missing out on a penny's worth of opportunities life has in store for you can have an incredible impact," she quoted him, then concluded that "the purpose of the penny is a reminder to embrace every moment, even the ones that you may not think are worth as much as if it were worth more, like a $100."
Valedictorian Francisco Alicandri gave a revised version of the speech he recorded for graduation in June.
"In this challenging time, our school graduation community and school district have put in a lot of effort to honor our achievements," he noted. "We not only had one, but two unique forms of graduation. And on behalf of the class of 2020, I would like to thank each and every person who has been involved to make these graduation ceremonies possible."
A recording of salutatorian Holly Boudreau's was also played, as Boudreau had already started military service. She is attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Principal Timothy Callahan called out the honors students for recognition and Bernard and Superintendent Barbara Malkas unfurled a banner honoring all the staff, faculty, parents and guardians as recipients of the 41st Marion B. Kelley Award. The award, named after the late teacher and administrator, is given to those who most exemplifies the ideals of teaching.
Teachers had doubled their efforts and collaborations to ensure their students' social and educational needs were being met, Malkas said. "Hundreds of other people — family members — stepped up and into roles in support of education. Overnight, family members became teachers, principals, adjustment counselors, and parents all in one. We relied on them for instructional support. We relied on them as partners."
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