The Saugerties High School class of 2021 graduated under blue skies with a traditional ceremony on Friday, June 25, with hundreds gathered on the Washington Avenue campus football field.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which influenced much of the lives of graduates until the end of their first year of high school, had finally withdrawn enough that a week before the ceremony, the district abandoned a rehearsal of its fiscal year 2020, which saw parents and students socially distancing themselves in cars throughout. But while few masks were worn on Friday, the pandemic dominated the ceremony, with students and school officials noting how tested their resilience has been over the past year and how many of them think that it prepared them for just about anything to come.
In her farewell speech, Olivia Staby explained how the global health crisis had shown her the wisdom to let go of stiffness and roll with the punches.
âOn the contrary, the pandemic has shown us the importance of improvising,â Staby said. âIf anything, it served as a reminder that life itself is improvisation. We all pretend until we realize it, whether we realize it or not. It may seem liberating to some, but for my worries, myself included, it represents a world of exhaustion. We make decisions based on the fear of losing control, and we disguise it as practice. Worrying can make you very prosperous, but very tired. When you grow up worried you are given the gift of analysis, and in return you learn what people like to hear, you choose every word carefully, and you are always ten steps ahead and 20 minutes of time. ‘advanced. Thus, an inevitable cycle of burnout and tears prevails. No one should be exhausted at 18.
Staby said the pandemic gave him an excuse to consider a path forward that doesn’t involve running out.
âMy decisions throughout high school were always driven by my love of learning, but my undeniable fear of failure and disapproval was my ultimate suffocating motivation,â she said. âSo when the world forced me to slow down, I decided that I wouldn’t reach the end of my trip only to realize that I should have done it differently. I realized that life is too important to being wasted worrying about all the wrong ways to go about it. After all, how can we really fail when the guidelines for success are made and improvised themselves? The greatest contributions of my career in high school Saugerties are the truths I have learned to live with and my ability to tell them apart, even though it took years and a pandemic. â
Class president Colin Leahy also spoke about how COVID-19 taught the class of 2021 lessons beyond what they could have learned in the classroom.
“It is without a doubt a great accomplishment to look today like it is after a year of battling governor’s regulations, county health department advice and most terrifying of all, the comments of our always loving and proud parents, âsays LÃ©ahy. âSomeone suggested that students graduating this year have not earned or received a quality education due to the dynamic nature of our classrooms. I refuse to believe this. The lessons we have learned and the habits we have been able to build this school year will serve us much better in the future than anything else. The versatility we’ve achieved so far, the disappointment, the confusion, the sense of defeat we’ve all experienced carries more weight in the real world than any textbook Ms. (Amanda) Tuccillo can find.
2021 Salutatorian Sophia Kamrass said the summer provided a time to pause and reflect before moving forward.
âThe last few months have been strange for me, and this last year has been strange for everyone,â Kamrass said. âHonestly, I don’t feel like I have much to say about the future ahead, about following your dreams here or finding happiness there. Having a pandemic blowing up your senior year is proof enough that the unexpected is always here to ruin your plans. So I think the moment should be a moment of peace and just a good long breath before we have to pull ourselves together again. Take advantage of the summer to explore. Do that thing four years of high school didn’t give you time to try. Take care all of you and enjoy the thunderstorms and the rough seas.
During her remarks, Staby said change is inevitable, but so too is a sense of home.
âHappiness is about letting go of what I thought my life was meant to be and what people expected of me and just accepting where I am now,â she said. âSometimes you just have to look at challenges, love, fear, people. You don’t have to save the world to be a good person. I know it’s true, that growth can look like a loss. You don’t need a great reason to liveâ¦ Let yourself be inspired rather than frightened by the passions of your heart. I know it’s true, that the house is not tangible . It goes round and round in my sister’s hazel eyes, it scrolls through my mother’s loud laughter, it’s the smell of grease and pine in my father’s garage. It rests in the crackling of the old radio. which I danced to in my grandmother’s kitchen. It is cradled by the dedication of my teachers. It shines in the arms of my friends and my boyfriend. It is the love of every person here. ” When we fall into this world, or get lost, because it will happen, know that you have a city and a school to welcome you home and that may his is always close.
The ceremony, which included performances by members of the Saugerties High School marching band and choir, was followed by a parade through the graduates village by car.