Class of 2021 is finally done

by Elizabeth C, Aurora J, & Sophia L

Duxbury High School Commencement will take place Saturday, June 5 on the Raymond P. Chandler Memorial Field, the turf and track next to the Steele Building, starting at 10 am. It was chosen because it is a large space, it’s outdoors, has a fence around it, and has a hill and stands. Graduation this year for seniors looks much different from years past with all the new Covid guidelines. Each student is allowed to have up to six guests attend the graduation. Since the event is outside, nobody is required to wear a mask but it is highly recommended for individuals who are not vaccinated. The students will all be socially distant since there is plenty of room on the field. There will be a band, a chorus, and an orchestra at the event, though because of social distancing and space, not every student in the programs will be able to participate.

Mr. Donovan, the principal of Duxbury High School said, “The intent of being on that site is that there is more than enough space for people to spread out and be socially distant.”

The fence surrounding the track will be used to separate the families from those in the graduation ceremony. They will be distanced on one side of the fence while the seniors go through their ceremony on the other side. About 2,000 people will be able to attend the ceremony.

If anyone attending the ceremony had Covid, there would be contact tracing.

“My advice would be, if someone has been exposed to covid they should not attend in the days leading up to it… and that’s what I would ask, and that’s what I will ask of families,” said Mr. Donovan.

Cohort C seniors will be able to attend the graduation ceremony and will be able to attend the dress rehearsals as well. For Kaelyn B., a graduating senior in cohort C, she said that she’s “still getting used to the idea that [she’s] actually graduating” having taken all her classes remotely this year.

Although it has been a good year, cohort C seniors are missing out. Some have chosen to stay home because of medical, family, and other reasons.

“Me being one of the only cohort C students [who is] graduating,” said Kaelyn B. “I felt extremely left out.” Those who chose to stay remote missed out on many things like their senior picnic, and spirit week.

Cohort C students have also been doing music classes over zoom, which can be challenging because of technical difficulties. They lack the environment and community a student gets when performing with the whole group. Fortunately, all seniors will have the opportunity to conduct a piece of their choosing at graduation during the concert hour starting a little before 10 am. They’ll get the chance to be part of the Duxbury High School ensemble one last time before leaving the program for good.

As the most important day approaches for the seniors of Duxbury High School, the music department is busy perfecting the graduation on June 5th. Ms. Noerenberg, the Music director, Mr. Judge, the chorus director, in addition to senior conductors Lauren L. and Kathryn W. shared their insights on the musical performances of the graduation event. 

Ms. Noerenberg oversees both the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. She is working hard to prepare both music groups at the same time and she said that preparation will mostly be the same as every other year. One exception is the absence of a Memorial Day Parade. “We have a lot more time to dedicate towards graduation, which is great,” she said.

Ms. Noerenberg acknowledges the effects of the ups and downs of the year.  “I mean, it’s just been a roller coaster here,” she admitted. She praised her students for adjusting through all the changes, from performing on the fields, then at the PAC, and so on.

Through the performances, Ms. Noerenberg wants to relay a message of happiness, especially for the seniors. “I think their family and friends are looking up to them, and we’ll be able to go to college next year in a normal world.”

“The seniors deserve a good graduation,” she said.

Looking past the graduation, Ms. Noerenberg also wishes her seniors a good vacation. “… the restrictions are coming down everywhere and things are looking back to normal. They’re going to have a great summer, a normal summer, I hope.”

Mr. Judge directs the Duxbury High School choruses. This year, the Chamber Singers and Chorale are the two groups singing at graduation. He is proud that they recently started preparing and are learning the pieces at an exceptional rate.

Mr. Judge is optimistic about the new program changes. The singers will be performing on the bleachers, which he believes will work out well, and may even be easier than the risers. In the end, though, he is just thankful that his students can perform again. “I think the fact that we can actually do graduation with music this year is huge, because that’s something we weren’t able to do last year with all the restrictions.”

Despite his outlook, he also agrees that the year has been a roller coaster. “We went through a while where we couldn’t sing. And so I’m glad that the guidance came out that we can … there’s been a lot more joy being able to sing again.”

Through the singing, Mr. Judge wants to send a message of celebration, “just to know all that they’ve done. This is a great senior class, so we should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

Last are two senior conductors of Chamber Orchestra, Kathryn and Lauren. Being a senior conductor means having the chance to stand in front of your orchestra and wave a baton to conduct a piece of your choice. It is a chance to face all their fellow musicians in a final farewell. With their time in Duxbury High reaching an end, Kathryn and Lauren have a more personal and emotional connection to share. 

“I wanted to conduct because I have seen everyone ahead of me doing it,” said Kathryn, “and it’s always really fun for seniors to go up there and play the song they really like. And I’ve always wanted to do it with Lauren. Because we’ve been in orchestra together for like, however long.”

“I feel like we need to keep the tradition alive since so many people before us have done it,” added Lauren, “and I feel like it’s an important thing to especially show younger students. That being in an orchestra is such a fun and special time.”

Graduation is an important day for all seniors, not just those who are conducting.

Wes M, the senior class president, believes that graduation will be enjoyable for the senior class because of all the school’s work. 

“Administration is working really hard to make it the best experience possible.”

Frannie B., the senior class valedictorian, is looking forward to the ceremony and grateful for the way the administration has set it up.

“I think it will be the most normal it can be and it’s nice to have some sense of normalcy in kind of a crazy year.”

As the 2021 valedictorian, Frannie is speaking at the event about success. 

“I’m definitely nervous, it’s a kind of intense thing, it’s a big deal to be able to get up there and speak, so it’s definitely a little nerve-racking to put it together,” she expressed, “but I think it will be really fun and I’m really excited for it.”

Along with Frannie, the class president, class treasurer, and the principal will speak at Commencement. The last day for seniors is Friday, May 28th, so they will have a week to rest up and prepare for this important day. Overall, the year has been very different, especially in the beginning and it’s particularly disappointing for seniors because they have such high expectations for the year.

Graduation is an important moment for senior Olivia S. and she has conflicting emotions about the ceremony. 

“It’s sad that you’re leaving behind all the memories you’ve made but you’re also very excited for your future and you’re looking forward to exploring yourself and exploring what the future holds for you and for your life.”

“I know senior year is usually a year where the seniors have a lot of unity and come together as a class,” Frannie B. acknowledged, “and I think that was really hard for us considering that we were split between two different groups and I didn’t see half my grade for half the year.”

Olivia S. tried to look on the positive side of all that has gone on this year. 

“Even though it changed a little bit, those traditions, we still did them anyway, we found a way to do them, to make this year feel like our senior year.”

High school graduation is a large milestone, it marks a new chapter of life, and for many, the shift from childhood to adulthood. Students have worked hard throughout all their years of lower school to reach this point. They have been taught things to help them succeed at whatever their next life step is. Many will continue to university and learn more about the specific area they want to be involved with when they are older. The graduation will mark the end of the class of 2021’s education in Duxbury. It will also be a time to say goodbye to their fellow graduates, though celebrations and parties, especially this summer will surely bring them back together again.

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