THETFORD, Vt. — Though masks were few and far between at Thetford Academy’s commencement ceremony on Friday to celebrate its 59 seniors, the COVID-19 pandemic still made its way into all three student speeches.
“When we arrived in 2018, we thought our job was just to be high school students,” said Mackin Briglin, a high school senior. “Do what we needed to do to get to today. But how do you do that job when all the rules change?
In front of hundreds of family, friends, teachers and supporters gathered on the front lawn of Thetford Academy, Briglin listed some of the ways his school did its job, including kitchen-table classrooms, FaceTime study sessions, club meetings online and learn to run for miles and miles while wearing a mask.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Thetford Academy and its Class of 2022 found ways to come together.
“You make new connections in a world that is pulling people apart,” he said.
Briglin also cited various student achievements during the pandemic, including winning the state championship in track and field, building robots to compete in world championships, taking college classes online, and working at tech companies like Hypertherm and Fujifilm.
Class President Taylor Farrell kicked off the outdoor ceremony by talking about some fun things she was thankful for, like dinosaur chicken nuggets and mummified hot dogs, but also the opportunity to return to in-person assemblies .
“From every homework night to (Thetford Academy) honors celebrations, no matter what challenges you have faced or milestones you have reached in your high school academics, we all deserve to be proud to be here today,” he said. Farrell.
Among the speakers, Thetford Academy held a flower presentation, where each senior was presented with two flowers, one blue and one white, to match the colors of the graduation gowns. The future graduates then dispersed through the crowd, looking for two people who had given them special support and encouragement over the years. The elders gave the flowers to these people, and most of the time, they received hugs in return.
After rain and gray skies earlier in the week, the weather for Friday’s graduation was cool but comfortable, with a few jackets and sweaters in attendance. Clouds hung overhead, but streaks of sunshine painted the green hills that served as the backdrop for Thetford Academy’s 203rd commencement ceremony.
Graduate Julia Martin focused on friendship in her speech.
“The friends I’ve made over the years have been a huge part of my life and I don’t think I’ll ever really show how much they mean to me,” she said.
COVID made building friendships more difficult, but Martin described the past year as a good opportunity to make new memories through a cornhole tournament or a trip to a water park.
“Although you may not be the closest to everyone in this class, I just have to say keep the friends that are close to you and don’t be afraid to do more,” Martin said.
Classmate Katie Waterman echoed the importance of friendship in an original song she sang to the tune of “Anatevka” by Fiddler on the Roof:
“Thetford Academy, Thetford Academy, close-knit, welcoming Thetford Academy, where I meet everyone I meet.”
As he continued, Waterman’s lyrics added a note of uncertainty as the 59 graduates prepared to venture into a larger world:
“Soon I’ll be a stranger in a strange new place, looking for an old familiar face, from Thetford Academy.”
Matt Golec can be contacted at email@example.com
Thetford Academy Class of 2022
Benjamin Kyle Acker; Cayden Adele Benjamin; Kiran Linehan Black; Samuel Gaspar Bosco; Taylor Riley Bricker; Mackin James Briglin; Augusto Hostetler Byrne; Caitlyn Ainsley Clough; Ezekiel Blue Colburn; Faith Jozlynn Crowe; Bryan Matthew Daniels; Tobin Hudson Durham; Louis Ireland Dybvig; Taylor Lynn Farrell; Tucker Andrew Gaffney; Joseph James Guyer; elizabeth harris jacket; Kai Francis Harris; madison elizabeth hatch; Anna Pierce Hebb; Autumn Rose Horniak; Ethan Allen Howe; Charlie Steven Jenks; Elliott Robinson-Jones; Junker by Fritz Waitsfield; Seung Gyu Kim; Gretta Rose Kopper; Jennifer Lynn LaPlume; Mason Cole LeFevre; Charles Nicholas Langshaw; Kaitlyn Elizabeth MacPhee; RyanMark Malloy; Ethan John Marshia; Julia Roberta Martin; Jack Richard McCabe; Krystal Mae McKinney; Andrew Addison Merritt; Emma Mildred Moore; Nathan Karl Neubaue; Rosa Arleen Novotny; Liam James Patterson; Powers of Madison Grace; Gordon James Reo; kaydence lynn rich; Elijah Sevastian Rodriguez; Maddy Ann Rooney; Maria Rossi; Olivia Rae Sayers; Maria Mae Sithavady; Jessica LynnSmith; Macey Jane Smith; Chantel Elizabeth Swasey; jesse james sweet; Brennan Bliss Vaughan; Katherine Dawn Waterman; Lily Claire Welch; Tate Bennett Whiteberg; Daniel James Wolstenholme; and Logan Scott Wurtz.