Wareham High School seniors graduate following unprecedented school year
Although the threat of rain forced the class of 2021 to graduate a day later than planned, Wareham High School seniors and their families brought no shortage of enthusiasm to their combined awards/scholarships night and graduation celebration on Saturday, June 5.
The senior class — roughly 70 students — were recognized in a ceremony that started at 6:30 p.m. and ended around 8:30 p.m. on Spillane Field. The ceremony was held outside in the interest of slowing or preventing the spread of covid-19.
Rain, potential thunderstorms and the subsequent safety concerns had forced the district to postpone the senior awards/scholarship night, which had originally been scheduled for Thursday, June 3, and graduation, which had originally been planned for June 4.
The delays were hardly the first time members of the class of 2021 were asked to manage a change of plans.
Many seniors were asked to navigate fully remote learning, hybrid learning and, finally, a return to full in-person school days — all in the course of a single, unprecedented pandemic-era school year. High School staff and administrators had nothing but praise for the way the students managed every challenge thrown their way.
Class representatives who spoke at commencement also remarked on the resiliency of their peers.
“We’ve all gone through such a massive and unpredicted pandemic, and we all came out stronger,” said Cooper Goodwin, the class salutatorian. “We may have lost some, and our hearts go out to them for trying so hard in life and being there for us. We are left here, but they impact us and we wish to carry that on. [...] So take the hits and keep going, stronger than before.”
Valedictorian Adreanna Dillon’s speech focused on the community fostered at Wareham High School.
She reflected on her experiences running cross country with Old Rochester Regional High School’s team because Wareham doesn’t have a team of its own. She said that while she had a great time, her experiences with ORR “will never compare to the memories I cultivated here.”
“Spending time on another school’s team has made me appreciate where I came from,” she said. “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly makes Wareham different from other communities. I just can’t think of any other word I’d use to describe it besides ‘home’ or ‘family.’”
When speaking at graduation, Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood reflected on the various milestones seniors had lived through in their roughly 18-year lives, including finishing high school during the pandemic.
“In the past 14 months, we’ve heard the words ‘unknown,’ ‘canceled,’ and ‘will be announced soon,’” Shaver-Hood said. “The truth is, none of us were sure what life would be like the next day, let alone in two weeks. There were just no right answers to be found. But we kept hoping, trying to do the best we could, and always believing that someday we would be back to normal. And while normal still eludes us, we are closer — and we are able to be here today.”
She continued: “I am so proud of you, the members of the class of 2021, for your tenacity, hard work and staying the course.”
Shaver-Hood went on to read the graduates a series of well-wishes and bits of advice which she’d collected from various sources, including Board of Selectman Chair Judith Whiteside, School Committee Chair Joyce Bacchiocchi, and some of Wareham Public Schools’ youngest students.
Wareham’s kindergarten, first and second grade students encouraged graduates to: “be nice to other kids,” “follow your dreams,” “remember to do your taxes,” “make sure you keep reading,” and “always look both ways before you cross the street.”
Shaver-Hood closed on words of wisdom from George, a second grader, before congratulating the class of 2021.
“Remember to call home, because you will be missed.”
This story has been updated to include words from the valedictorian and salutatorian.