The virtually held graduation ceremony for the Bourne High School Class of 2020 had a recurring theme—no, this was not the ceremony that the graduates deserved, nor was it the ceremony that anyone had wanted for them, but it was the one that was possible.
Up until Wednesday, July 29, the plan was to hold an in-person graduation ceremony on the high school's Jackson Field. However, due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that have not been made public, the district decided the in-person event could not be held while ensuring everyone attending would be safe.
Instead, the Class of 2020 was honored at 8:30 AM on Saturday, August 1, through a livestreamed ceremony that aired on Bourne Community Television.
"Like you I am incredibly disappointed that we couldn't meet together one last time on Jackson Field," Principal Amy Cetner said as she opened the ceremony.
She said over the past few months since schools were forced to close due to the pandemic members of the school community have done everything possible to make sure the graduates have been recognized such as teacher Mary Murphy serenading seniors with personalized songs on their front lawns.
"I truly believe that you are all destined for greatness," Ms. Cetner said.
A series of prerecorded segments followed her speech. The National Anthem was played by Analise Rogers on trumpet, and speeches were given by Valedictorian Patrick Sweeney, Salutatorian Mya Cohen and senior honor essay contest winner Lexis Grandel.
Mr. Sweeney implored his classmates to follow their passions to be happy in life.
"The happiest people do one or many things that fill them with joy," he said.
He said anyone who doubts the goals of his peers are most likely jealous of the things they have accomplished and of the passions they have in life. He asked that his peers not allow the jealousy of others to hold them back from fulfilling their full potential.
Ms. Cohen started her speech saying the graduation ceremony is not what defines them. She went on to talk about the importance of empathy, saying she was sorry to say she was once a "flower picker."
By this she meant she used to see a flower and picked it quickly because she appreciated the bloom without thinking of how that action might impact other people who will now never have the opportunity to appreciate the flower.
Ms. Cohen likened this to seeing a lack of love in the world and how people are often quick to dismiss events that do not have a direct impact on them.
"I believe that empathy is the purest form of love. Loving everyone for who they are opens your heart and widens your smile," she said.
She said there might be more sides to situations than people are aware of.
Ms. Grandel spoke about the impacts the coronavirus pandemic has had on many aspects of life. She said, while there have been negative impacts, there are also positive moments.
She said she is grateful for the extra time she has been given with her parents ahead of leaving for college in the fall. She has spent time watching movies, sharing meals and going for walks that otherwise would not have happened if the pandemic had never happened.
"I hope you can all find some light in this darkness," she said.
The ceremony concluded with Ms. Cetner reading the names of the 120 graduates and a compilation video of moments the class has had throughout their time in the Bourne schools.
Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou said everyone had hoped there would be a live ceremony, but in the end it was not meant to be.
"This day belongs to our graduates. Because of them we have hope," she said.