Assabet graduates ‘courageous’ Class of 2021

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Photo by/Dakota Antelman
An Assabet graduate adjusts a classmate’s mortarboard cap while waiting in line to receive her diploma.

By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor

MARLBOROUGH – Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School gathered family members and friends on its football field June 4 to celebrate the graduation of its Class of 2021. 

Speaking in his welcome remarks, Principal Mark Hollick had a simple reaction to the sight of students massed behind him on the football stadium’s bleachers. 

“They look pretty awesome up there,” he said. 

As was the case with other schools across the region, Assabet did not confirm its graduation plans until shortly before the event itself. 

That was thanks to a last minute announcement late last month from Gov. Charlie Baker that that majority of COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted.

That, in turn, allowed more students and families to gather, maskless and close together, than initially planned in what remains a new football stadium on the Assabet campus. 

“If you asked us a few months ago what we thought graduation would have looked like, it probably wouldn’t have been like this,” Hollick said, summarizing the confusion of this spring. 

The setting of this year’s graduation was unique as Assabet normally convenes at the DCU center in Worcester for its annual ceremony. 

Even so, community members celebrated the ability to preserve tradition after over a year of disruption due to the pandemic.

“Graduation is a great tradition and it truly is a celebration for each of us,” Hollick said. 

Reflecting on the Class of 2021, Hollick discussed the everyday sacrifices and challenges of life amid the coronavirus crisis which came to define the end of high school for this year’s graduates.

There was full-remote learning in the spring. Then came hybrid learning. Unlike their peers at some other schools, Assabet student athletes also missed out on their fall and winter seasons this year due to the virus. 

Hollick noted the proliferation of mask wearing and recalled regular reminders for students to lift their masks over their noses as they slipped during the day. 

“Throughout your four years, you have displayed courage, dedication and resiliency,” he said. “…You stayed the course and got the job done on every level.”