“I’ve worked hard for it. I’m proud of everything that I’ve accomplished, and I know that at the end of the day I earned it,” said Salutatorian Alexa Barstow, in her graduation speech at Oceanside High School.
Barstow and 116 other seniors received their diplomas, Wednesday, June 10, 2021, during an unprecedented ceremony in an unprecedented week of an unprecedented year.
2021 graduation plans changed multiple times for RSU 13 during the week, launching from an anticipated mid-afternoon Tuesday car parade of seniors at the Owls Head Transportation Museum. The lifting of outdoor mask mandates and easing of social distancing allowed plans for two outdoor graduation ceremonies (cohort A and cohort B) on the Museum’s tarmac. Yet, as the day approached, so too did an 87-degree heatwave and cautions of air quality hazards. Last minute attempts divided and quartered the graduating class into four ceremonies during the school day on Wednesday, at the high school. That idea didn’t fly.
Ultimately, parents, staff, and students ascended from the Oceanside parking lot in their decorated vehicle parade led by fire trucks, landing at the football field on the other end of Broadway, Wednesday evening for a slightly cooler (81-degree) 5 p.m. kickoff and sendoff. The outdoor ceremony is a first for Oceanside. No sitting on metal folding chairs. Families and cohorts grouped together on the grass with their own camp chairs, and children and grandparents strayed and returned to “an event that’s all about celebrating you, the Class of 2021,” said Superintendent John McDonald, at the lectern.
“You might find that your plans change, that you don’t meet the goals that you’ve set for yourself because you’ve set new ones entirely,” said Valedictorian Erin Corcoran, in her speech. “Maybe school hasn’t always been an effective environment for you. And now that you can find what is, you’ll thrive. Whatever comes next for you, just remember that things change. And that’s OK because even though it can be scary, it’s what makes life worth living.”
Superintendent John McDonald affirmed the sentiment of parents and teachers for the departing class.
“I am proud of you,” he said. “I am proud of the way in which you’ve risen to the challenges of working, living, learning in a nearly unthinkable situation. “We respect you. We are proud of you. We love you. You are perfect. Congratulations.”
Writer’s note: Aside from the 117 students who received diplomas during graduation, a few additional students have earned the necessary credits to graduate, but did not attend the ceremony.
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