On a windy June 25, Baldwin seniors marched in their blue caps and gowns across their football field to “Pomp and Circumstance” for their high school commencement ceremony.
After the national anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and call to colors, salutatorian Ashley Ganesh spoke about how Baldwin High School seniors coped during the coronavirus pandemic. “It was not exactly the year that the Disney production of ‘High School Musical’ had presented,” she said.
“As we were locked inside quarantine . . . we saw that reality is plagued with injustice and ignorance . . . but we made it our goal to alter this reality,” she said. “Our generation took a stand for racial justice, environmental sustainability, human rights and other causes close to our hearts.”
Ganesh then defined what it means to be a Bruin, noting, “We did not let a pandemic hinder our passions.” She also quoted advice that she received from the “one and only” dean of students, Jason White, which was to live in the moment “no matter how good or bad that moment may be.”
Valedictorian Dylan Pigott took to the podium to speak with a dash of wit and humor. “I will not say congratulations for graduating … We have done far more remarkable things than graduating,” he said, adding that his class has seen three principals, two presidents and one Brexit.
“There is no such thing as wasted,” he noted. “Each second you spent in those four, five, six buildings . . . you were transforming to the person you are today . . . so don’t be afraid to look back.”
Finally, Pigott said people tend to take for granted the permanence of others, “so say thank you now, not tomorrow, not next week, now.”
Superintendent Dr. Shari Camhi lauded the class of 2021. “This past year has taught us the most important asset we have is each other,” she said, commending parents, teachers and staff members for dealing with the pandemic’s constantly changing conditions, all while schools remained open.
Board of Education President Mary Jo O’Hagan spoke of two lessons learned this year. One, there is a newfound respect for and reliance on technology. Two, teaching values is critical. “You have shown character, resilience and flexibility during an extraordinarily year,” she concluded, “and we are so proud of you.”
Principal Dr. Neil Testa stressed the importance of resilience in the face of adversity and saluted first responders and essential workers. “Nothing can stop us here in Baldwin,” he said. “We are blessed and fortunate to be celebrating today here in person.” He also reminded the graduates that “there is no finish line in life,” as success is a process of persevering past obstacles every day.
Graduating seniors then walked up to the stage to receive their diplomas from O’Hagan and board trustees Tom Smyth, Annie Doresca and Susan Cools, and to pose for photos to mark the day in front of family members and friends.
Finally, it was time for the seniors to stand, move their tassels from right to left and toss the caps in the air.