St. John Valley

Van Buren graduates reflect on surviving senior year during a pandemic|

VAN BUREN, Maine — For the graduates of Van Buren Secondary School’s Class of 2021, Friday’s commencement ceremony was more than just a culmination of four years of hard work and the perseverance to graduate during a pandemic — it was a momentous last step on a journey with lifelong classmates who have become family.

The June 4 evening ceremony for the 17-person graduating class took place in the school gymnasium, with family and friends all allowed to attend in-person. 

After introductory addresses from Superintendent Elaine Boulier and Principal Karen DuBois, seniors Brett Lizotte and Edmund Saucier IV performed the National Anthem — on guitar and drums respectively.

Honors Essayist Lindsay Beaulieu recalled some of her favorite memories of the senior class and the tight bond they share. 

“You are all like brothers and sisters to me and it’s hard to believe that I’ve known most of you since I was five,” Beaulieu said. “I will miss you all, and will never forget the memories we made together.” 

Salutatorian Abigail Ayotte also reflected on the strong relationship among the Class of 2021, remarking that it was their shared experiences — the highs and lows — that brought them together and made their time in high school special.

“Although many of us may feel sadness on this day, it is not an endpoint,” Ayotte said. “Today is a pivotal point in our journey of life. It is the start of a new chapter, to embrace every opportunity presented to us, never fearing the unknown.”

Valedictorian Jayde Violette addressed the unprecedented circumstances in which she and her classmates celebrated their senior year, commending the extra dedication and spirit it took for students to earn their diplomas.

“And just like that, four years gone in the blink of an eye,” Violette said. “No matter what happens after we leave this room, always remember your roots. This is where we close a chapter of our lives and open a new one. The home of the Crusaders is now also the home of tomorrow’s nurses, army personnel, diesel mechanics, teachers, and so much more.”

After the speeches, senior Brooke Caron, the class’ vice president, took the podium to recite the Class of 2021 poem: “Don’t Quit,” by an anonymous author. 

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will, / When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill / When the funds are low and the debts are high, / Find you want to smile, but you have to sigh, / When care is pressing you down a bit- / Rest if you must, but don’t quit,” the poem begins. 

Then, the group listened to the class song, “Senior Year” by Drew Baldridge and took photos, watched a Class of 2021 slideshow, before the seniors’ names were called for the distribution of diplomas.

VAN BUREN, Maine — June 4, 2021 — Salutatorian Abigail Ayotte addresses the Class of 2021 and guests at the graduations ceremony for Van Buren District Secondary School’s class of 2021. (Courtesy of Kelly Davis)

VAN BUREN, Maine — June 4, 2021 — Honors Essayist Lindsay Beaulieu recites her speech at the graduation ceremony for Van Buren District Secondary School’s class of 2021. (Courtesy of Kelly Davis)

VAN BUREN, Maine — June 4, 2021 — Valedictorian Jayde Violette reflects on perseverance and friendship in her address during the Van Buren District Secondary School commencement ceremony. (Courtesy of Kelly Davis)

VAN BUREN, Maine — June 4, 2021 — Brett Lizotte performs the national anthem on the guitar at the beginning of Van Buren District Secondary School ‘s Friday graduation. (Courtesy of Kelly Davis)

VAN BUREN, Maine — June 4, 2021 — Edmund Saucier IV plays the drums during the national anthem at the start of the Van Buren District Secondary School commencement ceremony for the class of 2021. (Courtesy of Kelly Davis)

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