With the ocean and a new turf field as backdrop, their friends and family in the audience, 68 students of the Hull High School class of 2021 graduated (unmasked) last Saturday, capping more than a year of learning like no other. Despite the heat, more than 500 people turned out to applaud the graduates.
Principal Nicole Nosek told students that “as the world opens back up and begins again, today is the day the world begins for you all.”
Nosek reviewed the struggles of the past year during the pandemic, noting that “we became a divided school” but one that “longed for the day we could not be divided, but come together as one HHS community.”
Seniors, she said, “took on the challenges of this year” and adapted to “ever-changing schedules with the ever-changing times,” with social distancing, masks, virtual learning, and new school rules required. Nosek said the class “shouldered the responsibility, no matter what was asked of you.”
The students “rallied to resume your time together,” she continued, and enjoyed huge successes along the way. Those successes included raising $6,000-plus for the senior prom.
Benjamin Olivieri, the class of 2021 president, told his peers that “this class is unlike any other that has moved through these hallways, having overcome so much over the past year and a half.
“I want us all to continue to push forward and get out into the world. Try new things, live in new places, eat food that we’ve never tried before, and just live life to the fullest.”
Olivieri said his ultimate goal for the class was to “find your forever happiness, in whatever it is you choose to do. … You are special; you are cared about; you are loved.”
Melissa Rymaszewski, class valedictorian, said: “We lived through history. What a journey it’s been.”
She told her classmates: “Don’t expect things to come your way; you have to work for them. … We will set goals for our futures [and] cherish the knowledge we learned from our mistakes.”
Maeve Donohue, salutatorian, took inspiration from Disney for her speech. Drawing on Rafiki’s quote, she said: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
Quoting Dumbo’s “don’t just fly, soar,” Donohue encouraged her classmates that “whatever it is you choose to do, do not settle for just OK.”
Donohue received a round of applause when she told the audience that “it is never acceptable to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, political beliefs, or how people identify.”
She ended her speech with a “hakuna matata” and the advice that “the world has so much to offer, and it is up to us to accept it.”
School Superintendent Judith Kuehn certified the graduation and said she is “filled with pride and hope for you and your future.”
Victoria Dolan is school superintendent for The Hull Times.