BEAVERTON – The Beaverton High School Class of 2020 had their graduation ceremony on Thursday, July 16 at the Beaverton Junior/High School.
The ceremony was held outside of the school in the parking lot due to the state ordered limits to indoor gatherings. Each student’s seat was positioned six feet apart from another, and each of the speakers on the stage and the board of education members were also distanced from one another accordingly.
The ceremony was live broadcasted on the Beaverton Schools website and shared throughout the school’s Facebook pages and groups for parents and for anyone else to watch. A few groups of families, friends and supporters showed up to the ceremony, although with the school property being closed off to the public, they watched from the road side.
Superintendent, Joe Passalacqua was introduced by Beaverton High School Principal, Ryan Roberts to address the graduates and viewers. In his address, Passalacqua acknowledges the hardships the Class of 2020 has endured through their senior year.
“I encourage each of you to stay connected,” Passalacqua said. “Find ways to interact with your peers who are going through this same experience, you’re not alone. Your sacrifices are helping to ensure the health and safety of the community and the senior class of 2020; and you have the power to make the most of this unfortunate circumstance.”
The superintendent then spoke to the vast amount of support the class of 2020 has received from the local community. These efforts included social media posts, local businesses using signage to commemorate the graduates, and the senior class as grand marshals in Beaverton’s Fourth of July parade.
“Everyone is coming together and letting you know that you’re not forgotten,” Passalacqua said. “You, the senior class of 2020, are becoming more resilient than anyone could have ever predicted.”
Passalacqua then proceeded to recognize the accomplishments of the senior class, which he ended with a joke about the seniors “going down in history as the senior skip day champions.”
The senior class elected Gladwin County Clerk and Senior Class Advisor, Laura Brandon-Maveal as their guest speaker, who gave a very supportive and emotional speech to the graduates which included her son, Grant Brandon. During her speech, she instructed the graduates to get up and turn toward the camera that was live broadcasting the ceremony online, and show their love and support to their families with waves, heart-pumps, and blown kisses followed by an applause.
Brandon-Maveal addressed both the graduates and their parents by saying, “In our 13 years together, we have grown, we have become strong and we are a close-knit family. We have accomplished some pretty amazing things.”
The class Salutatorian, Mark Snooks Jr. then took the stage and spoke to his fellow classmates about his personal memories over the years in Beaverton Schools.
“This town is fantastic,” Mark said. “I’ve been extremely lucky, I’ve met so many amazing people and had great teachers and made friends that I never thought I would have made.”
He then spoke about how lucky everyone at the ceremony was to be there amidst the large number of troubles throughout the year. He also told everyone that they are lucky to be in America where they are able to believe in and be a part of whatever they want. Mark concluded his speech by telling his peers that because of the freedoms they are lucky to have, everyone should be respected.
The final speaker before the graduates individually crossed the stage was the class Valedictorian, Benjamin Minkina. Benjamin began by thanking his family, friends, classmates and teachers for his successful journey through education. He mentioned that even though the year was cut short, memories had still been made and stories will be told.
“This year will most certainly never be forgotten,” Benjamin said. “Our class has seen experienced something that no one else has seen before.”
He then congratulated his peers and wished each of them good luck in their future endeavors.
After each graduate traditionally crossed the stage to receive recognition, the President of the School Board, Adam Zdrojewski addressed the class to confer the graduates. The graduates were instructed to turn their tassels to indicate their graduation and were then congratulated by the board president. Those in attendance then applauded the graduates as they tossed their caps into the air.
Beaverton Principal, Ryan Roberts once again took the podium to give his closing remarks. He declared his hopes for the class and their ability to do good wherever they go in life.
“You now join the alumni of Beaverton High School,” Roberts said. “A proud and powerful group of people that you will always be a part of and be able to count on. Now go forth and put your education to work.”