SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Spring’s Class of 2021 walked across the stage at SPAC in a traditional ceremony without COVID restrictions on Friday, June 25.
At Saratoga Springs High School’s 148th commencement ceremony, 495 students graduated as the Class of 2021. They are headed to 164 different colleges and universities in 33 states over five different countries. Five members of the class have made the commitment to serve the country in the Navy, Army, and Coast Guard.
The Class of 2021 President, Kendal McCloskey, opened the ceremony with cheers from the crowd early on in her welcoming speech:
“It was not so long ago that this moment, along with so many other senior moments, seemed unlikely to become a reality,” said McCloskey. “Through the hard work and dedication of so many citizens around the world, and our own perseverance and commitment, we are able to gather for this celebration together, in person, instead of a long line of slow-moving cars and the inevitable glitch of a Zoom call.”
Following an announcement from Governor Andrew Cuomo just over a week before the ceremony took place, students and guests no longer had to follow strict COVID restrictions and requirements. All were welcome to attend without a ticket, when previously each graduate was limited to two tickets for guests. There was no assigned seating in pods, no social distancing or capacity requirements, and no proof of vaccinations or negative test result required. However, masks were required to be worn by unvaccinated persons, per NYS Department of Health regulations.
“Just a few weeks ago we were not sure if this celebration could be possible,” said Michael Patton, Superintendent of Schools. “The dedicated members of our high school graduation committee have been working extremely hard for the past several months, exploring and planning every possible scenario for today.”
The graduation rehearsal on Tuesday, June 22 and the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 25 were the first times the Class of 2021were all together this school year. And there was a very popular word used amongst the speakers to describe the graduating class – resilience.
“You have successfully navigated one of the most challenging times that public education has ever faced,” said Patton to the graduating class.
Graduates and faculty alike gave great thanks to the community in their speeches.
“We will always be shaped by this community,” said Julian Silva-Forbes, Salutatorian. “That might be a 9th grade lunch table turning into a lifelong group of friends, a favorite elective turning into a college major, or a volunteering experience turning into a favorite career. The lessons we learned from each other and from our great teachers will always be a part of us.”
Silva-Forbes encouraged his peers to continue to create a community in the places they land after graduation. English teacher Jill Cowburn put together a video in which Saratoga Springs graduates from the last decade congratulated this year’s graduating class, gave them advice, and welcomed them to the working community.
The Class of 2021 further showed their appreciation for the community by giving $500 each to the Class of 2022, 2023, and 2024, and $500 to the school newspaper, The Lightening Rod, as their Class Gift. On behalf of their peers, the Class Officers spoke on how they are hoping to “ensure that future generations of Saratoga Springs High School students can have as memorable of an experience as we did.”
Jason Zheng, Valedictorian, shared some of the fond and funny memories that the class had during their high school journey at Saratoga Springs, and as they matured into the leaders they are today.
“Look back to your childhood dreams, countless aspirations, and the ‘I want to be this when I grow up.’ Look back to any time in your life when you were truly happy and recapture that moment,” said Zheng. “Then set out on this new chapter of your life and accomplish whatever you told yourself you would accomplish when you were little – that is a true leader.”