Mineola High School
Class of 2020 graduation
Against a backdrop of coronavirus protocols, the Mineola High School Class of 2020 took its final walk Friday night at Meredith Memorial Stadium.
Like their fellow classmates around the nation, the class was robbed of the last two and a half months of its senior year but did get to enjoy a modified version of a live graduation ceremony as restrictions began to ease starting in May.
And then the nation was thrust into additional upheaval as rallies and protests spread over the police killing of a black man in Minnesota.
“We are saddened by the tragic events that are happening across our country,” said senior Megan Casper in her opening prayer, ”May we treat all people from all walks of life and of every race with respect. Give us wisdom to lead and be part of the solution.”
David Sauer, presiding over his last graduation as high school principal before moving to assistant superintendent, addressed his final group of graduates.
He advised them not to seek the negative in others, because they will find it. But to treat each day as a precious gift, and to practice kindness, even when not being treated with kindness.
He told the class it has been a blessing to the community, and asked that the wheels of his truck be returned.
“I want you to know how very sorry we are that you missed out on some of the best memories of your life because of the pandemic,” Sauer said. “Prom, senior trip, with friends and school family. You handled it with grace and dignity and finished strong.”
The class history was given by seniors J.T. Brust, Melea Bedford and Claudia Barriga.
Students recognized as entering the military include Sara Davis, Anna Reyna, Reid Hope and Dalton Rogers.
Valedictorian Izzy Tresca, in her address, said, “Despite all the challenges that the virus has laid upon us, we fought through it and have made it to graduation. No other class in history has ever ended their senior year with a global pandemic resulting in a nationwide school shut down but, of course, it happened to us.
“I think that it is safe to say that this year has brought about one of the most difficult and life-altering obstacles that we have faced up to this point in our lives. Senior year seemed to be smooth sailing the first semester, with the exception of the enormous case of senioritis that seemed to affect our whole class. However, as we began our second semester, which was supposed to be the best few months of our 13 years of school, our world rapidly changed and we were drug along for the ride. Who would have thought that we would leave for spring break and never get to walk the halls of MHS as a student again? I know many of us had continuously said that we couldn’t wait to be done with school or that we needed a little break, but corona really took that request to the extreme.
“Teachers and staff at Mineola High school have gone above and beyond to make sure that we had what we needed. Local businesses came together to make sure we were still able to celebrate our accomplishments. And as a class, I know that we couldn’t be more grateful for the love and support our school and community have provided us with to help compensate for everything we have lost and missed out on during our senior year. So, on behalf of the class of 2020, I want to say thank you for everything you have done for us.
“When our graduation becomes the past, everyone is going to remember our year, no one will be able to say they had a graduation story quite like ours. No one will ever forget the class of 2020.”
Salutatorian Tristan Kirk said, “Our high school chapter may have ended as a cliff hanger, but I believe this leaves us with a choice. We can start our new chapter grieving all the things we missed, or we can make our next chapter even bigger and bolder to make up for our stolen memories. People will say the class of 2020 missed out on a lot of things. This is true but my hope and wish for all your stories is that they finish that sentence. I pray they say the class of 2020 missed out on a lot...BUT they came out stronger.
“There is no doubt that 2020 is going to be remembered for all the craziness and tragedy that has happened this year. But no matter how long this coronavirus lasts, it will never change the number hanging off your tassel. With all the chaos and the bad that will categorize this year, we will always have something good, we graduated. Even though the days leading up to or the graduation itself may not have been how we planned, we finished!
“Keep persevering and keep your head up. One day this will all be over and when it is, I hope that each of you will be able to look back and say, I took the bad cards I was dealt and made something great out of them. I am proud to say that yes we are the class of 2020 and yes we graduated a little differently, but yes we are the new beginning of society. We will be the generation that rebuilds what corona has taken.”