(Pictured above are slats of wood engraved by BHS teacher Bob Mullen from the gym floor that is being replaced currently. Each graduate received one today.)
A ceremony at Daniel A. Van Detta Stadium was originally planned for the Batavia High School Class of 2020, but with many changes to the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update, that plan was changed.
Today's outdoor ceremony was divvied up into six separate mini graduations with each senior joined by a couple of family members.
Opening remarks were made by Student Council co-mayors Lydia Wahr and Macayla Burke, and by English teacher Kimberly Przybysz, who was chosen by the National Honor Society to give the commencement speech.
The co-mayors presented Principal Paul Kesler with the Dundee Award (in a nod to the TV show "The Office") on behalf of the Class of 2020 in honor of being a supportive principal who succeeded at keeping the rite of graduation close to home.
Above, Batavia City School District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr.
(Photo above: BHS Principal Paul Kesler)
Immediately following the seniors' event were half hour graduating sessions with social distancing for the Class of 2020 near the historic big tree in front of BHS.
Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. addressed the graduates but especially parents who wore many different hats after the pandemic shutdown in mid-March: principal, teacher, counselor, social worker.
“Take this setback as an opportunity to make a comeback and make the Class of 2020 historic," Soler said. "Be grateful with the time you spent time with family the last 100-plus days, because at the end of the day that is what truly matters because, to the right and left of you, they got you to the finish line. We are Batavia.”
Principal Kesler told the crowd that nobody has experienced anything like this -- coronavirus -- in their lifetime and he expressed gratitude for his staff and students who had to battle adversity to learn online.
These teens, Kesler noted, although disappointed about missing traditional senior events, were grateful for all their blessings -- the support of friends, school staff, family and life in a free country.
This unique group is "part of a thoughtful generation that loves and values people even more than generations that came before us,"Kesler said. "Above all, you will show love and appreciation for all of those that come across your path, I will truly miss you and am very proud of you, Class of 2020.
Prerecorded speeches were given by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian for five out of six scheduled ceremonies but then both were made in person at their scheduled times.
Valedictorian Andrew Lin maintained a 101.497 cumulative grade-point average throughout high school; plus he achieved a perfect score on the ACT assessment, which has not been done in 15-plus years. A three-sport varsity athlete, Andrew served four years in student government, was active in his community, and will attend MIT this fall to study Computer Engineering.
Andrew spoke about the Class of 2020 high school years from freshman to high school, and the changes and obstacles members will remember, forged by adversity and resilience.
"In a few short months we will be spread out all over the country, blazing our own futures, continuing to change the realm just like we did in high school -- making friends, taking new interests, expecting challenge and meeting new people," Andrew said. "I leave you with this quote, 'Don’t forget where you came from but always remember where you're going.'
"Batavia High School is our home. We are all behind you; supporting you as your future awaits you."
Salutatorian Lydia Geiger graduates with two honors -- the prestigious elite honors program at The Hochstein School of Music, and with today's advanced regents diploma at Batavia High School with a 101.021 grade-point average.
Lydia has volunteered many hours in the community. She has also participated in every musical program during all four years at BHS. She will further her education at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam this fall.
Lydia talked about how the class was born to be resilient in the wake of 9/11 and is now graduating in the midst of a global pandemic.
"We look to have the faith when we look through the window even when we see the broken glass," she said. "As time goes on, we fall into living in patterns, going through the motions in the dark, and when the light comes on we don’t always have the perspective of what should be. But who defines what should be?
"The vision of life events that should be, that we create in our minds is not reality. With every passing moment we are putting together the puzzle pieces and this journey we call life. As more of this picture has become evident, we have realized that they’re was a greater purpose."
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Valedictorian Andrew Lin
Salutatorian Lydia Geiger