BRISTOL -- The covid-19 pandemic changed everything for Bristol Eastern High Schoolâ€™s class of 2021.
Ironically, the possibility of rainfall on Monday threw one more curveball at the graduates, as their commencement ceremony at the last minute had to be changed from an outdoor venue at Muzzy Field to the indoor gymnasium at eastern.
â€śThey had anything but the typical high school experience,â€ť Principal Michael Higgins said of the graduates.
â€śI think we were able to learn together,â€ť he continued. â€śIâ€™m so proud of them.â€ť
The last minute change in venue provided one more challenge for the class of 2021, one that Higgins said the graduates handled very well.
â€śTrue to their nature, they pivoted and made a good adaptation,â€ť the principal said. â€śThey were able to make a quick turnaround and make it happen.â€ť
Although the covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on the high school experience for this yearâ€™s graduating class, Valedictorian Noelle Bruce chose instead to focus on the support each student received from friends and family and the experiences that lie ahead.
â€śMany of you may be expecting me to talk about covid-19,â€ť Bruce said during her commencement speech, â€śbut there is nothing left to talk about. Because today is a day of reflection, and there is so much of high school, outside of this pandemic, to reflect on.â€ť
â€śHigh school is the worldâ€™s best social experiment, and while I hope you have moments to savor, milestones that have set you on a path for the future, and have accomplished everything you set out to do, I hope high school has challenged you,â€ť Bruce said.
The valedictorian also thanked family members who helped this graduating class reach their goals, as well as teachers, administrators and other staff at Bristol Eastern High School.
â€śI know I have so much to thank my parents, as well as my grandmother for, for their unconditional love and support, and I am sure many people here feel the same,â€ť Bruce said. â€śIâ€™m actually wearing my motherâ€™s cord up here tonight as she recently finished her masters program and could not attend her graduation. By wearing it to mine, I am showing how proud and grateful I am to share this moment with her.â€ť
Prior to commencement, other students reflected on their years at Bristol Eastern High School, with many saying they would miss their friends and many of the wonderful teachers.
â€śI genuinely enjoyed my friends,â€ť said Gabe Zygiel.
Zygiel, who said he wants to go to college to become an art teacher, added that one thing he will not miss about high school is gym class and having to run a mile.
â€śThere are some great teachers,â€ť Kenzie Jalbert said.
High school for Jalbert had its ups and downs, she said, and although there were some bad apples, the people were mostly good.
â€śI was here for three years, and this place was like home,â€ť said Alexandra Avery. â€śThe friends I have made have been absolutely amazing.â€ť
Avery said she plans to head to college to study criminal psychology.
â€śIt was a great four years,â€ť Simon Akridge said. â€śThe teachers were amazing. I hope to see them later on in life.â€ť
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or email@example.com.