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Kennedy High School graduates the class of 2020

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The graduating class of 2020 was celebrated at 18 ceremonies on the Wellington C. Mepham, Sanford H. Calhoun and John F. Kennedy High School football fields, spread out across three days in order to maintain mandated social distancing protocols.

Although attendance at each of ceremony was limited, the pomp and circumstance were thriving: school color embellishments decorated the fields, commemorative speeches rang loud and proud, and in some cases, students wore face masks that denoted their future collegiate plans.

Valedictorians Alyssa Dioguardi (Mepham), Marc Edayadi (Calhoun) and Katherine St George (Kennedy), and salutatorians Spencer Mattes (Mepham), Adam Gokcan (Calhoun) and Madeline Jutsen (Kennedy) all addressed the crowds.

Edayadi spoke about his generation being exposed to transformative change. “It has been sewn into the very fabric of our existence,” he added. “No matter what the future holds for us, I am optimistic because we have looked life straight in the eyes and have emerged stronger, freer and wiser.”

“We must not let this moment in history define our futures,” Mattes said. “It will, however, always be a part of who we are and where we come from, and it will serve to motivate and remind us to look towards the future while simultaneously embracing the past.”

St George spoke about utilizing the tools Kennedy provided her to propel into future plans. “What else have we gained, if not rigorous and critical empathy,” she said. “We know we have the resilience and knowledge of the human experience to face whatever lies down the line. We’re not just going to be okay — we are going to thrive.”

Principals Eric Gomez (Mepham), Nicole Hollings (Calhoun) and Gerard Owenburg (Kennedy), school officers and various board members also addressed the graduates and their families.

“During this next phase, please take time to self-reflect and see how you can make this world a better place,” Gomez said. “Remember that if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

Owenburg reminded students of how much they’ve already achieved, and acknowledged how some mobilized to help others with food and supply drives amid the pandemic. “This senior class responded to the crisis the way they always do — they put others first,” he said.

“Your lives are different than anyone who has come before,” Hollings added. “You have had a series of life lessons in these past few months that could be the biggest, most important events in your life and help send you to the next level and become world-changers.”

Superintendent John DeTommaso addressed the district’s collective class of 2020 in a pre-recorded speech about “grit and resilience,” which encouraged students to address “future adversity” they may face.

“They were heartbroken, and they rose,” he said. “Things were taken away from them and they adjusted. I am certain that from the class of 2020, we will see future leaders. I cannot wait to see you flourish.”

Provided by BMCHSD; compiled by Alyssa Seidman.