“Our moment to celebrate together”: the graduates of the Lycée Schenectady take a sacred walk

Schenectady High School graduates closed a tumultuous year on Friday with a pair of sunny graduation ceremonies at the center of the high school soccer field.

After an entire year with most of the students virtually learning from home, the senior class finally gathered for a final farewell – albeit spread over two ceremonies.

“We have been separated for over a year and a half, and now is the time for us to celebrate together,” said Makaila Adair, the co-winner of the class during her speech to her classmates.

Adair pointed to the unexpected turn of events this year’s seniors faced towards the end of their junior year and alluded to the struggle the seniors faced as they pushed for different activities throughout the year. year, including an outdoor graduation ceremony.

“I don’t think anyone predicted that a pandemic would happen in our four years of high school,” Adair, who plans to study engineering at RPI next year, told fellow students. “I am more than grateful that we can be here today even though it has taken a few fights.”

Adair’s co-winner Halle Fletcher, who traveled to Wellesley College to study neuroscience, reminded her classmates of the challenges they had overcome and urged them to pursue their passions.

“You have all in your own way overcome obstacles and reach the finish line in this part of your life,” said Fletcher. “High school after today is behind us and it’s time to move on and achieve great things for ourselves. “

Senior Class President Elizabeth Tchako, who has helped promote different events this year, said she would miss the diversity that defines Schenectady and her students and the different perspectives that Schenectady students bring with them to school. Other schools have nothing on Schenectady High, she said,

“No one can compare to the community we share walking the halls here,” she said. “We’re not a typical high school, and I wouldn’t be proud of my time here if we were.”

Schenectady High School celebrated 561 graduates of the 2021 class on Friday with a pair of opening ceremonies on the high school football field. The high school saw a projected graduation rate this year of 77 percent, a slight improvement from last year and the school’s highest graduation rate in more than a decade.

After the ceremonies were over, the graduates took photos with their friends and family and looked back on the past year.

After the ceremony, graduate Anjalie Gopal said she felt good walking across the stage after a difficult year working mainly from home.

“It has been a difficult year,” she said. “I didn’t think I would have walked across the stage, but I did. It’s awesome.

She said she planned to study criminal justice and wanted to work as a crime scene investigator. “CSI,” she simply said when asked about her career aspirations.

“The start was stressful, we thought it was going to be something great, and then COVID dropped,” said graduate Robert Barton as he walked across the football field after the ceremony.

He said working from home was a major strain on him and his classmates and noted that many of his classmates either lost motivation or gave up. But he said he was able to stay focused enough to reach the finish line, thanking his family for the constant support to “go to school, go to school”.

“Those who were successful had to sit down and focus on the job more than anything else,” he said of his fellow graduates. Barton is considering going to college and has said he’s interested in studying video editing or computer science.

Joi Garcia has sometimes said that she thinks she will never make it to graduation. But she did.

“I felt like I would never make it, but I did,” Garcia said. “I was like, fuck, I never thought this day would come so soon.”

It wasn’t easy, Garcia said, but she’s proven she can do tough jobs.

“It was difficult but I was still focused, I did my best, I did my best,” Garcia said before describing what she learned about herself in the last one. school year. “I’m strong, I’m brave, I’m smart.”

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