Their 10-second videos were as unique as each of the 1,290 public high school Class of 2020 graduates.
Huntingtown’s Katherine Mower posed with her dog (which had its own mortarboard), Northern’s Sara Fields flipped her tassel, blew a kiss then did jazz hands, Calvert’s Benjamin Springer’s video montage includes shots of him as well as a bird, a bat and a flying squirrel, and Patuxent’s Cassandra Rattica’s video featured her flipping her tassel then zooming in on a stuffed animal collection.
But the one thing that each of the seniors had in common was that they were finally recognized during virtual graduation ceremonies held June 29 and 30.
Each high school also held miniature graduation ceremonies on their athletic fields over the past two weeks.
But the students’ biographies and 10-second videos were each as different as the 2020 school year, the last three months of which were upended by the coronavirus.
“The uniqueness of the 2020 graduations will I believe make it more memorable, not just for your parents and family and friends and relatives, but for you as well,” board of education President William Phalen said. “When in 20 or 30 or more years you say, ‘I graduated in 2020, people will say, ‘Oh yeah, that was the year that everything was done differently, the year everything changed.’ The last three months have put a strain on all of us, but for the most part, we did not miss out on any major events, not so you the Class of 2020. But you will get your diplomas, diplomas just as valuable as any received by any prior Calvert County graduate.”
“I’m sure you have felt limited, restrained and disappointed, but you mustn’t let the COVID-19 experience limit your future,” Superintendent of Schools Daniel Curry said. “In fact, you can use this experience, which is unlike any previous high school class, to catapult yourself into the world.”
Claudia Otchere of Huntingtown perhaps spoke for all graduates when in her bio, she quoted Dwight Schrute of “The Office,” who said, “I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me.”
Curry also showed the graduates a piece of paper that read CAVU, a term used by pilots that stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.
“Unlimited ceiling [so] jump as high as you can, fly as high as you can, you won’t hit the ceiling. In other words, the sky is the limit,” he said. “Unlimited visibility, there is nothing in your way, no clouds, no fog, so during this time of limited public access and social distancing and following some very strict social practices, you have been limited in your access to friends and family. Opportunities in high school in the traditional way have been taken away from you. I wish you a future of days filled with CAVU. No matter where you may want to go or what you may want to do, the possibilities are endless. Your ceiling and your visibility are unlimited.”
Patuxent High, which held its virtual ceremony on June 29, along with Huntingtown, featured musical selections and speeches before announcing its 267 graduates.
“As you enter the next phase of your life, some would say it’s adulthood, do not forget about the model you have already established for success, which helps you rely on others, to learn new lessons, to work hard and to never give up despite the obstacles in front of you,” Patuxent Principal Marc Watson said to the graduates, which included 25 Graduates of Distinction. “The definition of challenge will be different for each of you as you move forward, but I am confident you are leaving Patuxent High School with the knowledge and character traits necessary to achieve sustained success.”
“For 12 years we have grown together as a class [and] we have learned from each other in our successes and in our failures,” said class president Kate Poremski, who was a Graduate of Distinction, a Superintendent’s Award recipient and a member of the school’s 1300 SAT club. “Some of these things we have welcomed, some of these things we have struggled through with the support of our friends and classmates. Now is the time to take what we have learned, reflect on what it means to us, and move forward. No matter what you decide to do with your future, do it with love and with passion, and above all, make sure you do something that makes you happy and proud.”
Huntingtown High graduated 353 students, 80% of whom made the honor roll at least once. According to Principal Rick Weber, the graduates have taken 1,300 combined AP courses, and 53 Hurricanes have a grade point average of 3.9 or higher.
“This is a group of very talented, and they’ve shown this spring, resilient students of which the Huntingtown High School community should be proud,” Weber said. “While there is much to regret about the first six months of this year, the Hurricane Class of 2020 is a bright spot and a source of hope going forward.”
“During this year, we had to begin prepping for the next part of our lives,” said Huntingtown class president Darrien Coates, who was also the school’s scholar-athlete of the year said. “It was hard, but somehow we made it through. We learned that together and with the right drive, we could get through anything that was in our paths. Even though our high school careers are ending, our lives are just beginning. There is no doubt the class of 2020 is leaving a legacy and was a part of something memorable.”
Northern, which held its virtual ceremony June 30, along with Calvert, featured musical selections, including Zach Staver’s “Patriot Pride.”
“We are graduating 351 individuals who have accomplished a defining moment of their life,” said Northern Principal Stephen Williams to his students, 54 of whom received the President’s Excellence Award. “This is the last obstacle for students before they begin their career in the military, college or the workforce. Students, whatever is your path, know that I am very proud of you and know that I am very fortunate to be your principal. You are a very special class to me for many reasons.”
“I spent quarantine the same way everyone else did; I slept in until 1 p.m., watched shows on Netflix, ate too much, and tried to become TikTok famous. It didn’t work,” class president Abrielle Bender said. “With perspective, I changed the way I was living my quarantine, and I saw my classmates doing the same. Northern High Class of 2020, I urge you to use that change of perspective in your future and allow yourself to travel. You will have hardships in the future, maybe not as bad as a global pandemic, but seeing what everyone has done these past few months, I know we can overcome these challenges and use them to our advantage.”
Calvert sent off 314 students, by way of a photo montage set to “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C. The graduates accumulated more than $5 million in college scholarships and hundreds of college credits.
“The students in the 2020 class had their year hijacked by COVID-19, which robbed them of the opportunity to really close out their senior year in the way that they deserved,” said Principal Steven Lucas, who is stepping down after accepting a school superintendent’s job in Delaware. “But I want to mention how resilient, how tenacious, how socially aware the students in the class are. They did not let these circumstances rule them. They took the health crisis that was presented, and they responded, and most of all, they stayed positive and productive.”
“We learned how to pick ourselves back up again,” class president Sophia Santoyo said. “We are not average people, no we are not, we are the class of 2020. its been a great year; it’s one we went through together, and I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it with anyone else.”