The Whitehall class of 2021 turned their tassels over on June 25 at 7 p.m. The class was composed of 38 students, all with different paths ahead of them. The class sat spaced out on a set of risers, all waiting to collect their diplomas.
“I’m excited for the future,” Siera VanZandt said immediately after the ceremony.
The ceremony was an hour and 30 minutes long and included speeches from valedictorian Jordan Gould and salutatorian Zoe Eggleston. Both commended their classmates for making it this far and wished farewells to this chapter of life.
“I would like to thank our superintendent, Mr. Dee, our outstanding principal, Mr. Burgess, the school board, and our wonderful teachers for trying their absolute best to make this the best year possible,” Eggleston said in her speech.
As the sun set during the graduation, students became eager to grab their diplomas. After four years of studying, growing, and persevering through a worldwide pandemic, the class was appreciative that they were able to celebrate the milestone together with a ceremony.
Class advisor Dane Stutes was beyond happy for the students to get to celebrate their accomplishments.
“I’m exhilarated,” he said. “It seems like it’s been so long for this moment with everything that’s going on and I couldn’t be more proud of every one of these kids, what they’ve gone through, and the perseverance they’ve exhibited. So, I am very, very happy.”
Jordan Gould included a part of his speech for everyone to reflect on their time in the education system and think back to the memories that have stuck around.
“It is an honor to be up here to speak on the behalf of the class of 2021,” Gould said. “I couldn’t wish for a better group of people to be on this… sidewalk with,” he joked. “I would like to begin by asking you to all reflect on your years within the education system – even you in these chairs.”
Gould mentioned that when he asked his classmates what high school was for them, he said no one responded with math equations or books.
“High school is about growing and enjoying your journey with your peers,” he said.
Gould also explained high school taught his class that school isn’t a race and that everyone can be independent and an individual.
“Grades are just a bunch of numbers. Their value is nothing more than a pat on your back from your teacher,” he said.
After the turning of the tassel, students grabbed confetti poppers from under their chairs and exited the stage to meet with family and friends.
“I’m going to WNE for college, Western New England. I’m going there for wrestling, and I’ll be majoring in mechanical engineering.so, it’s going to be tough, but I’ll be able to get through it,” Spencer Dickinson said surrounded by family.
When Jordan Gould was asked how he was feeling in the moment, he mentioned that he’s ready for the next chapter to begin.
“I’m glad it’s over! I’m very proud of everybody and all my classmates.”