Delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but not scuttled, the 2020 launch ceremony of the SABIS International Charter School in Springfield saw 87 seniors from the 2020 class officially “sworn in” as graduates.
Four of the graduates of the classes were not at the ceremony. Jason Daniels, Jr., Devonte Camp, Brent Pieczarka and Anthony Santaniello had enlisted in the military and had been called up for basic training. They each received their diplomas in a special ceremony on June 5.
“Today is your day and we are going to celebrate and have fun with families and friends,” Principal Marette Thomsen told graduates and their families. “Our campus has been quiet since March 12, but learning continues. Although your graduation ceremony has changed, the value of your degree has not changed. The significance of graduation is more than a physical location. While we know we cannot replace this special step during this unprecedented crisis, you, the Class of 2020, deserve to be celebrated for your 13 years of hard work. “
The newly created alumni and their guests took to the school’s football field on Saturday for a socially distanced, masked and gloved ceremony. Individual groups of chairs were set up for each family and group of friends, at least six feet apart from each other.
While the unusual start was a victory, Thomsen told the students, the circumstances present a tall order.
“You make history! It’s bittersweet but we’re here to celebrate nonetheless. This year is a first for our school in its 25 years of existence and in our country ”, she declared. “Our world has changed and it is your job to help us rebuild it.”
The ceremony was a victory because earlier, when there was little chance of getting a diploma, a special driving event was organized. Graduates and their families drove across campus and received special school gifts and souvenirs as well as caps and dresses. On Saturday they had to wear them.
Mayor Domenic Sarno has said he needs the help of the Class of 2020 to make Springfield a better city and to make the world a better place.
“I need your help. Many times the media portray urban America in a very negative way,” he said. “I want to make sure the bugle call is over there that the City of Springfield is a good city for all creeds, colors and backgrounds. ‘
“You might not realize it, but some of you might be leading in the city of Springfield. Some of you will continue to lead in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Some in the United States of America and some around the world. The foundations were laid at home by your parents, your skills are honed here at the SABIS charter school. As the old song says, “There’s nothing left to stop you now. “
Graduate Kenney Winslow said she saw the historical connection Thomsen mentioned.
“Usually this day is accompanied by loose leaf cakes and crowds. But, the story found us and as Mr. Cree called us into the office and ended us. Only the suspension didn’t last a week for toilet crimes – it was forever. We got out of school on March 12, you know, about 5 lifetimes ago, and played home school.
“For my fellow graduates, this summer is a big breath. For now, celebrate because each of us has been tested and proven and challenged. Our presence here is proof that we have never stopped or given up.
Kevin West said he was sad that many of the traditional events that make up most of the retirement years have been wiped out. But, that only underscored the strength and persistence of the 2020 class, he said.
“We wore masks and distanced ourselves socially. We navigated virtual learning. We demonstrated for social justice. We paid attention to politics and we registered to vote. We got our driver’s licenses. and passports and new jobs. Yes, we weren’t able to attend the prom, banquet or senior march we deserved. That didn’t stop us from doing what we needed to do. We got our diploma.
West said his years with SABIS were formative.
“We have memories, some good, some bad that shaped us into the people we are today. … Now it is our responsibility to continue our travels and to put forward our best energies, efforts and ideas to the world. We are the innovators, future change makers, lawmakers, scientists, presidents, educators, architects and more that the world expects. ”
Rather than the traditional individual graduation ceremony, these had been sent to students weeks ago, each graduate was called to cross the stage holding their diplomas to be photographed and cheered on by families and classmates. .