St. John Valley

Van Buren Class of 2020 graduates with small ceremony

VAN BUREN, Maine — As the year came to a close for Van Buren District Schools, high school seniors wrapped up what could be considered the most abnormal school year in their 12 years of public education and walked across the stage Friday night. 

 

The school’s administration and teachers met with the seniors on three separate occasions and decided that the graduation would still take place at the school, like it has for years. However, the graduation was only open to parents. 

While the students were disappointed, Kelly Davis, director of guidance, said that the seniors realized that having the event live-streamed would allow for family and friends to still watch. 

“We all feel sad for the seniors that this is how their graduation has to be and that they will remember their graduation day in this way, however I do believe we as a school district have done our absolute best to make sure they have a beautiful graduation and honor their accomplishments while following the guidelines set forth by the Department of Education,” Davis said.

I believe given the circumstances, the kids are happy and pleased to be able to come together with their classmates and family to celebrate their day and have taken all the guidelines in stride and with a smile. This is a great group of kids and they desire the best and I am happy they were able to have an in-person graduation.” 

Valedictorian Amanda Nicknair said in her speech that her graduating class — the class “born into a terrorist attack” — is the same class graduating “into a world of a pandemic with uncertainty.” 

“Who knew that March 13th would be the last day that we would see each other and the last day that we would walk those halls to our classes,” Nicknair said. “It is a very stressful time for us as our senior year has been stripped away from us and we were no longer able to finish our year in the classes at school, have a prom at our school, have the last season of tennis, have our class trip, have senior skip day, and make so many memories that we could have made while at school.”

Nicknair summarized the last four years of the tight-knit senior class, but said the end was never one they expected.

“We didn’t know that by 2020, a virus would change our lives drastically,” Nicknair said. “Wanting to grow up and leave high school behind really took on a different feeling when we were no longer given the option to be in our classes at school. We learned that we should never take the littlest things for granted, because most of us would give anything to get back the last few months of memories that we were unable to make.”

The 17 seniors crossed the stage after hearing speeches from the valedictorian, salutatorian and honor essayist, as well as Tammy Roy, a former Van Buren teacher, who as a guest speaker ran down a list of every senior and spoke of their character and what good she believes they will do in the world. 

“You are never alone,” Roy said in a video presented to the class. “You will always have your friends, your family and the support of your community to back you up every step of the way.”

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