The Beaverton High School Class of 2021 graduated on Thursday, May 27 outside at the school’s football field. The ceremony was moved up from it’s original 7 p.m. time to 6 p.m. as a last minute effort to dodge the forecasted rain.
Beaverton Jr./Sr. High School Principal, Mike Bassage welcomed everyone to the ceremony and gave a speech that themed on hope and perseverance. In his speech, he spoke about a family that struggled raising a premature baby during the Spanish Flu pandemic. He later revealed that the premature baby, who was born at only one pound, 10 ounces, is his grandmother, who is now 102 years old. This was his personal example of hope and perseverance that he used to both inspire the graduates and to honor their hard work through the challenges of the present day pandemic.
“Always let hope be your guiding star, and perseverance be the bedrock that you draw your strength from,” Mike said before introducing Beaverton Schools Superintendent, Joseph Passalacqua.
“Here we are, a year unlike any other,” Superintendent Passalacqua said as he addressed the graduates. He then spoke to the song the Beaverton Class of 2021 had chosen as their class song, Don’t Blink by Kenny Chesney. The lyrics of the song speak about the importance of being present in life, and “not blinking” through some of life’s biggest moments.
Passalacqua spoke from personal experience, “The older I get, the world spins faster and faster, and this is just how life works. But now I find myself approaching the big 50, desperately needing to slow down, just a little, if it was only a real possibility.”
He told the graduates when they take the time to reflect on their time in school, he hopes that they made every moment count so that they may look back proudly.
“Now that the high school years have passed, your memories have been made and many adventures await you. On your path make sure to stop, smell the roses and take a look around, or you’re going to miss it.”
Logan Mathews, the class salutatorian briefly spoke after the superintendent. She spoke about the National Honors Society raising over $2,000 for Coaches Versus Cancer in 2020 and setting a new record, only to beat that with a $3,114 donation in 2021. This was an example she used to explain the overwhelmingly supportive community the graduates were all a part of.
“Our town has been through an insufferable amount of loss these past two years,” Logan said “When people lost their homes, our community went to help, when people lost their family and friends, we supported them.” She then looked out over her fellow graduates and said, “If I were to leave you with one thing today, it would be to never change who you are.”
Valedictorian, Sydney Compton approached the podium next. “Never in a million years would I have expected that my senior year would have been spent at my kitchen table in my pajamas,” Sydney said. Like Logan, Sydney also spoke to many of the hardships the class has faced over the past couple of years. Sydney believes these hardships were a motivational tool for her and her peers, so that they may reshape the future.
“We now have the opportunity and the power to make this world one that we want to live in,” Sydney said.
Tami Wagner was the class’ guest speaker and a teacher at Beaverton Jr./Sr. High School. She spoke after the Beaverton High School Band played an ode to the graduates. She emphasized the fact that both her and the graduates “made it” early in her speech. With plans to retire in 2020, she mentioned that she made a promise to the future graduates of 2021 that she would stay for one more year. This graduation ceremony was the end of an era for not only the graduates, but for her as well.
“Parents, I first want to say thank you. You have raise some outstanding young adults, I have enjoyed getting to know them.” Tami said. “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your child’s life. Your kids have become my kids.”
She recalled first meetings with some of the graduates and watching as many of them matured “before her eyes.” Tami then went on to mention specific examples of how she bonded with students in the past.
“Sometimes all we need is someone to trust, to talk with, to ask advice, to cry on their shoulder,” Tami said. “As my teaching career comes to a close, I want you, the class of 2021 to know that speaking tonight has been the greatest reward of my teaching career.”
Beaverton Class of 2021 President, Molly Gerow and Vice President, Madi Pahl then read the names of the graduates. The graduates were individually recognized as they crossed the stage and received their diploma.
Adam Zdrojewski, President of the Board of Education then made a final congratulation remark to the Class of 2021 before the graduates tossed their caps into the air and family, friends and school staff cheered them on as a class, one last time.