Dartmouth High seniors graduate mask-free after Covid school year

Jun 6, 2021

Less than a month ago, Dartmouth High’s senior class celebrated a return to full in-person learning — seeing many friends they hadn’t since March of 2020. 

Now, they have bid farewell to those same friends and faculty following their graduation on June 6.

During his address to the 256 graduates, Principal Ross Thibault noted that the June 6 ceremony date — the anniversary of the D-Day invasion in World War II — was especially appropriate for “the most resilient class in recent history at Dartmouth High School.” 

“While no one has asked you to storm the beaches of Normandy, make no mistake about it, you have faced a great deal of adversity,” he said. “You have given up many of the normal traditions and experiences that come to be expected of a senior year in high school — I believe and hope that, in the long run, you will be better for it.”

Throughout the past two school years, members of the Class of 2021 were tasked with navigating fully remote learning amid the onset of a pandemic, figuring out the alternating schedules under the hybrid model and how to remain socially distanced inside the building— on top of other issues that arise with being a high schooler. 

“Many of you have pushed forward to roll out of bed and log onto Google Meet — even on days when you did not think that was possible,” Valedictorian Sarah Hartman said.

She added that while the class has “experienced an enormous amount of loss” throughout the past year, her fellow seniors were able to bounce back.

“Your perseverance in continuing to move forward to attain this incredible goal is remarkable,” Hartman said. “Our diploma is not just a representation of our academic accomplishment, but how much we have grown and adapted as people.” 

Along with student resilience, class president Christian Gwozdz-Silveira also praised the school’s staff for helping the seniors get through such unprecedented times.

“I cannot thank you enough for the continuous patience, work, and dedication you put towards our grade,” Gwozdz-Silveira said. “If it were not for all of you, we would not have had even close to as successful of a year as we did.”

Speakers also made note of how the Covid-19 pandemic made them “appreciate the little things in life” like Friday night games, pep rallies, lunches with friends, and prom.

“[These] should never be taken for granted,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford said.

Gwozdz-Silveira agreed. The graduate noted even heading into June 6, he “didn’t think we’d be sitting here today.” 

“We tried to stay positive while pushing forward, and I’m extremely grateful that we are,” he said.