MARSHFIELD — As the Class of 2020 turned their mortarboard tassels from one side to the other, confetti poppers shot colorful paper bits in the air, families cheered and car horns honked — South Shore Tech community celebrated graduation.
Family cars, vans and pickup trucks were lined up in front of staging at the Marshfield Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 17, a change in venue required by the challenges of dealing with coronavirus.
That challenge was also brought to mind by Student Body President and Valedictorian Emily Ingraham of Whitman, who began her remarks by asking for a moment of silence to honor those lost to COVID-19 and to honor those on the front lines fighting the virus.
Ingram spoke of looking forward to the highlights of senior year.
“Then the world fell apart, and I truly thought this day would never come,” she said.
Craig Davis’ history class, in which students learned to disagree on issues with those who disagree.
“We made each other think and listened to each other’s opinions, which made us want to gain more knowledge on so many different topics,” she said “No two humans process or experience life in the same way, and we each have our own unique stories, passions, and opinions, and in freshman year, we learned how to express ourselves and grew from letting others express themselves through their stories, passions and opinions.”
But a bigger lesson was in the offing.
“We are graduating in the middle of a global pandemic, and with that we lost out on the best part of high school — the end of our senior year,” Ingram said. “And while we won’t be going to a senior prom, we have the tools and lessons on how to be successful from here.”
Hard work showed the Class of 2020 what it takes to persevere, she said.
School administrators also had to persevere to arrange for the day’s ceremony.
“You won’t know the number of hours, and phone calls, and meetings he had to do to put this event together, but a lot of this is directly due to him,” Principal Mark Aubrey said in introducing Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey for his remarks.
“If you enjoy this event, you’re welcome,” Hickey joked after a chorus of car horns. “Any complaints, see Mr. Aubrey.”
Hickey thanked officials at the fairgrounds and Marshfield town government for the assistance they provided in planning the event.
“We wanted to give you an event you would remember after such an eventful end to your senior year,” Hickey said. “It is wonderful today to be together in the same time and place after spending so much time apart.”
He noted that this year more than any other in recent memory, parents have been our partners in educating their children, right up to the very end of high school. Prior to the pandemic, Hickey said most in the school community would have thought that the most significant ‘adjustment story’ to mark this school year was when the football team was down 30-0 at halftime, and came back to win 42-36 in double overtime.
Hickey also described how the Drama Club, after the spring performance of “Clue” was canceled due to the COVID-19 shutdown, worked with advisers to perform the play on Facebook live.
“These qualities, developed at home and strengthened in your school community should grow as you enter adulthood,” he said. “Keep developing the habits of mind that the world needs: Be supportive, resilient, flexible, and focused. … I want to thank all of you for being resilient, sticking together, and supporting one another. Class of 2020, you are a graduating community for the ages.”
Senior Class President Ryan Mahoney spoke of knowing she wanted to attend SST since she was in the sixth-grade, when she looked forward to learning cosmetology. She graduated, however, as a CNA heading for nursing school.
“I’m sure many can relate when I say that we definitely didn’t have our lives as figured out as we thought we did back in eighth grade,” Mahoney said. “This place and these teachers have opened our minds and allowed us to dig a little deeper into ourselves to find who we are and who we are supposed to become. And for those of you who aren’t there yet, and who are still figuring out what your next chapter will look like, I hope that being a Viking has brought you that much closer to your greatness.”