Dartmouth kids graduate at Voc-Tech’s in-person ceremony

Aug 8, 2020

Eighty-one teenagers from Dartmouth were among hundreds of students who finally celebrated their graduation from the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School on Saturday — in person.

Strict safety guidelines put in place to protect those in attendance from spreading coronavirus included numbered assigned seats and assigned entrances, with dozens of staff members on hand to ensure rules were followed.

Students were allowed two guests each for the ceremony, and sat in socially distanced clusters of three on the football field at the New Bedford school while their classmates lined up to receive their degrees.

All wore masks along with their green robes, and many caps were decorated — although none were thrown. The guidelines also banned gatherings before or after the event.

But the students were still happy with the ceremony.

“It feels amazing that we could have this event during this time,” said Dartmouth resident Pedro Rosa, a new graduate in the field of engineering and robotics. “We can practice social distancing, and have a good time as well. It’s awesome.”

Speeches from the valedictorian and salutatorian as well as school officials highlighted this year’s unusual circumstances while also expressing hope for the future.

Valedictorian Janell Vo stated, “This experience has given us an opportunity to grow closer to our families and loved ones, reflect on life, and focus on what is most important to one another.”

“Finishing our senior year with a global pandemic — I think we’ve done quite well, all things considered,” noted class Salutatorian Jack Ostiguy in his speech. “And a far more famous Jack, Jack London, once said, ‘The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.’ I shall not waste my time.”

“This is the best feeling, being able to graduate with our friends and stuff,” said Rylee Johnson, a former Dartmouth resident who studied nursing. “Voke did a great job.”

“They did a good job trying to pull this together, even though it was two months late,” agreed Dartmouth resident Austin Shorrock, who earned a diploma in legal and protective services. “But at least we still got it in!”

“Finally. It’s a relief,” said proud dad Todd Shorrock. “It’s an ending that didn’t have an ending until now.”