‘History found you’: Mahar graduates 88 in virtual ceremony, subsequent parade

  • Kristopher Stroup collects his diploma from Ralph C. Mahar Regional School Principal Scott Hemlin in a drive-by ceremony before the parade around town Friday evening. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Confetti flies through the air at the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School graduation parade in Orange on Friday night. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Superintendent Tari Thomas and Ralph C. Mahar Regional School Principal Scott Hemlin hand out diplomas to graduating seniors in a drive-by ceremony Friday evening. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Graduates smile and hold their mortarboards as the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School graduation parade passes Butterfield Park in Orange on Friday night. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A graduate waves as the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School graduation parade passes Butterfield Park in Orange on Friday night. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Graduates smile and wave to onlookers as the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School graduation parade passes Butterfield Park in Orange on Friday night. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A graduate picks up her diploma from Ralph C. Mahar Regional School Principal Scott Hemlin Friday evening. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Ralph C. Mahar Regional School graduates in decorated vehicles parade through Orange on Friday night. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2020 3:03:12 PM

ORANGE — Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s Class of 2020 was one of firsts.

Its members were the first to take algebra in middle school and sign language in high school. And on May 26, they became the first class of Senators to graduate during a pandemic.

A virtual ceremony was recorded inside and outside the school with only the superintendent, principal, keynote speaker, School Committee Chair Peter Cross, student speaker and some Athol-Orange Community Television crew members in attendance to minimize exposure to COVID-19. The ceremony was first broadcast Thursday night and can be viewed on AOTV’s website at bit.ly/2TSkPAi.

Then, on Friday, the week’s commencement festivities were wrapped up with a parade, during which the 88 graduates received their diplomas from their vehicles.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the curveball it has thrown the world was an unignorable topic among the ceremony’s speakers. Superintendent Tari Thomas acknowledged the “season of terrible losses,” mentioning families who are grieving the deaths of their loved ones.

“Others have lost their jobs, their savings, their plans for the future,” she said. “Many of you, I know, have suffered these things, too.”

Thomas encouraged her students not to think it is frivolous to feel sad about losing out on their traditional graduation ceremonies, as a high school graduation is a life milestone.

“But history found you. An event that is changing the way we live has been sweeping around the globe, and it found you,” she said. “Little did you know, when you went home from school on that Friday, March 13, that you were to never go back. Not as a student, anyway.

“You went to class at home in your bedrooms, at the kitchen tables and sitting out on the back porch,” she added. “You did it with your Chromebook and Google Classroom and group chats. You wrote papers, you took notes and watched virtual labs. It would have been real easy to slide into TikTok, Snapchat and Netflix all day long.”

Class Vice President Jordan Fournier called this senior year “a wacky one.”

“Most seniors talk about how this day comes too fast. Well, I’m sorry for the Class of 2021, but that cliche can no longer be used,” she said. “No one had it come faster than the Class of 2020. March 13 — let that sink in. March 13. Seniors usually wake up in mid-June and realize the year has sped by too unexpectedly. This year, it ended unexpectedly.

“None of us knew it was the last time most of us would see our teachers, classmates and halls,” she continued. “Some of us missed sports seasons or performances or shows or science fairs. We were forced to adapt to new changes with our online learning. We missed out on our senior year. We have faced challenges no other class has before.”

The graduating class chose Shannon Gwosch, who has taught health at Mahar for seven years and coaches sports at the high school and middle school, as the keynote speaker. She started her comments with one of her famous corny jokes: Why are educated people so hot? Because they have more degrees.

“The good thing about this being virtual is I can just assume you’re all laughing,” she said. “While we all know how hilariously funny I am, the reason we’re here today is because of you, to celebrate you. You are the reason many have thought outside the box these past couple of months to ensure there was a celebration. And you are the reason why I love my job so much.”

Gwosch reminded the 88 graduates that life is about the journey. She encouraged them to work hard and strive for goals, but not to the point that they miss out on life. She told the young people to live in the moment, “instead of trying to snap a picture of it.”

Graduates

Noel Eliezer Abreu, Samantha Rose Bailey, Mya Mae Ballard, Charles Joseph Barnes, Daniela Josephine Beauvais, Nicholas Ryan Blake, Enrique Antonio Brito, Todd Albert Chiasson, Joseph Loyal Coleman, Sebastian Colon, Jude Finnian Cook, Trevor Johnathan Davis, Joshua Isaiah Doane, Logan Chase Dodge, Skylar Elizabeth Dodge, Riley John Drew, Kyla Ellen Dunphe, Jaylynn Mariah Eady, Gabriel Kayne Engerman, Kane Thomas Fahey-Lafreniere, Julia Louise Fahlbeck, Jordan Cayla Fournier, Cameron Tyler Gagnon, Sieyra Ann-Mildred Galvin, Carolyn Elizabeth Gilmore, Cameron James Granger, Grace Marie Grenier, Connor Steven Hanks, Robert Earl Harris, Aaron Joseph Hemingway, Andrew Thomas Herk, Ryan Douglas Hesselton, Isaiah David Hill, Pedro Jimenez Jimenez, Cynthia Jo Kelly, Kartyr Makenzi Lankowski, Megan Lynn Legare, Jaydlyn Ann Lohnes, Aiden Wayne Lupien, Natalie Elisabeth Lyman, Jonathan Richard Mahony, Alexis Marie Mainville-Schaefer, Jordan Linda Marcinczyk, Jacob Douglas May, Thor Penfield Mead, Lilian Sage Melanson, Natalie Elizabeth Merchand, Brooke Ashley-Lynn Mitchell, Dyani Dusk Morgan, Tucker John Ninteau, Zachary Alan Notre, Alexander Ramon Olivencia, Courtney Jasmine Page, Zachary David Paluilis, Emily Rose Paluk, Sarah Rose Pedercini, Simon Quinn Alexander Powell, MaryAnne Elizabeth Prescott, Donald Edumund Tucci Rau, Kamryn Rian Reilly, Megan Nicole Rich, Megan Denise Robertson, Trevor Carson Ryan, Adam Savoy, Dawson Rain Shinn, Samuel Kolbe Simon, Sara Maxine Simon, Talia Shea Sims, Gavin Spagnola, Justin Nathaniel St. Pierre, Erin Elizabeth Stowell, Kristopher Darryl Siam Stroup, Peter Samuel Tattan, Jeremiah Stephan Teele, James Patrick Temple, Michael George Terry, Danielle Michele Tompkins, Charlotte Torres Zelaya, Sean Lucas Velaquez Lebron, Cheyenne Elaine Voudren, Taylor-Jean Drusilla Wheeler, Karlie Anne Whitmore, Jacob Ryan Whitney, Cameron Joseph Williams, Khalid Rashid Williams, Jessica Marie Wilson, Johnny Lamarr Wilson and Ceara Zhang.

 

Awards and scholarships

Noel Eliezer Abreu — Excellence in Digital Photography

Samantha Rose Bailey — All’s A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Athletic Varsity Letter for Cheering 2019, 2020

Charles Joseph Barnes — Excellence in 2D Art; Athletic Varsity Letter for Football 2017, 2018, 2019-Captain; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2018, 2019, 2020-Captain; Athletic Varsity Letter for Baseball 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020-Captain; Key Club Outstanding Athletics

Daniela Josephine Beauvais — Excellence in Chorus

Todd Albert Chiasson — Excellence in Training Active Bystanders; All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Excellence in AP Statistics; Best Academic French Student; Athletic Varsity Letter for Football 2017, 2018, 2019-Captain; Athletic Varsity Letter for Wrestling 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; Key Club Outstanding Sportsmanship, National Junior Honor Society Scholarship

Jude Finnian Cook — 3 Years Participation in JETS; Excellence in Social Studies

Joshua Isaiah Doane — All A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education; Excellence as Physical Education Co-op

Logan Chase Dodge — Achievement in 2D; Excellence in the Fish & Game Club; All A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Baseball 2018, 2019, 2020

Skylar Elizabeth Dodge — Achievement in 3D Art; All A’s in all Quarters for Health & Physical Education; Athletic Varsity Letter for Softball 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020-All Star; Excellence as Physical Education Co-op; Key Club Outstanding Sportsmanship; Key Club Outstanding Athletics

Riley John Drew — Excellence in Social Studies; Best Performance in Spanish for Professionals; Athletic Varsity Letter for Ice Hockey 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, State Champions 2020; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Track 2018, 2019, 2020; Key Club Tim Donelan Memorial Scholarship

Jaylynn Mariah Eady — Student Government Excellence; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2020; Key Club Outstanding Citizenship; Key Club Membership for 2 Years; Key Club Outstanding Achievement of 136 Hours of Service; Key Club President’s Award

Julia Louise Fahlbeck — Achievement in 3D Art

Jordan Cayla Fournier — Excellence in Social Studies; Excellence as Physical Education Co-op; Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Co. Scholarship

Cameron Tyler Gagnon — Student Services Perseverance & Resiliency

Sieyra Ann-Mildred Galvin — Achievement in 2D Art; Excellence in American Sign Language

Carolyn Elizabeth Gilmore — Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2016, 2017, 2018; Athletic Varsity Letter for Wrestling 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; Athletic Varsity Letter for Track 2018

Connor Steven Hanks — 5 Years Participation in JETS

Robert Earl Harris — Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Ice Hockey 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020-State Champions 2020

Andrew Thomas Herk —All A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Baseball 2018, 2019, 2020

Isaiah David Hill — Excellence in Training Active Bystanders; Excellence in Social Studies

Pedro Jimenez Jimenez — Most Improved in English Language Education

Jaydlyn Ann Lynes — Excellence in Yearbook Design; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; Athletic Varsity Letter for Softball 2018, 2019, 2020

Aiden Wayne Lupien — All A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2019, 2020; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2019, 2020

Natalie Elisabeth Lyman — All A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Best Overall Spanish Participation

Jonathan Richard Mahony — Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Wrestling 2019, 2020

Alexis Marie Mainville-Schaefer — Excellence in 3D Art; Excellence in Chorus; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2017; Athletic Varsity Letter for Softball 2019

Jacob Douglas May — Excellence in Social Studies

Thor Penfield Mead — Excellence in Graphic Design; Excellence in Social Studies; History Book Award; Excellence in Calculus; Excellence in AP Environmental Science; Athletic Varsity Letter for Cross Country 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Winter Track 2017; Athletic Varsity Letter for Spring Track 2015, 2016, 2018; Key Club Outstanding Citizenship

Lillian Sage Melanson — Achievement in Digital Photography; Excellence in Chorus; Athletic Varsity Letter for Volleyball 2018

Natalie Elizabeth Merchand — Excellence in American Sign Language

Brooke Ashley-Lynn Mitchell — All A’s in all Quarters in Health; Excellence in Social Studies; Athletic Varsity Letter for Softball 2018, 2019, 2020; Athletic Varsity Letter for Wrestling 2020

Tucker John Ninteau — 6 Years Participation in JETS, JETS National Competition: All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education Award; Excellence in Social Studies; Excellence in Mathematics Achievement Overall; Athletic Varsity Letter for Golf 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020-Captain; Key Club Top Ranked Student

Zachary Alan Notre — All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2019, 2020; Key Club Tim Donelan Memorial Scholarship

Courtney Jasmine Page — Bob Ross Art Citizenship; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2019, 2020

Zachary David Paluilis — Most French Enthusiasm & Spirit

Emily Rose Paluk — Excellence as Physical Education Co-op

Simon Quinn Alexander Powell — All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Excellence in Honors Anatomy & Physiology; Best Performance in Spanish for Professionals; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

MaryAnne Elizabeth Prescott — All A’s in all Quarters in Physical Education Award; Excellence in Social Studies; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2017, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball 2019, 2020; Athletic Varsity Letter for Track 2015, 2016

Kamryn Rian Reilly — Excellence in 3D Art; All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Athletic Varsity Letter for Indoor Track 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Spring Track 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Megan Nicole Rich — All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Excellence in Honors Plant Science; Excellence in American Sign Language; Athletic Varsity Letter for Softball 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; Athol Masonic Charity & Education Society Scholarship; Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Co. Scholarship

Megan Denise Robertson — Most Improved Spanish Student

Adam Savoy — Advance Skills in French; Athletic Varsity Letter for Ice Hockey 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, State Champions 2020

Samuel Kilbe Simon — Warwick Community Scholarship

Sara Maxine Simon — Achievement in Studio Art Award, Excellence in Social Studies; Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2019; Warwick Community Scholarship

Talia Shea Sims — Excellence in Archery Club; 1 Year Participation in JETS; Excellence in American Sign Language

Kristopher Darryl Siam Stroup — Regional Student Advisory Council of Excellence

Peter Samuel Tattan — Athletic Varsity Letter for Football 2016, 2017, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter Award for Wrestling 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Jeremiah Stephan Teele — 2 Years Participation in JETS; All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Chemistry; Excellence in Physics

James Patrick Temple — Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Charlotte Torres-Zelaya — All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; Athletic Varsity Letter for Track 2020

Cameron Joseph Williams — Athletic Varsity Letter for Soccer 2018, 2019

Jessica Marie Wilson — Excellence in 2D Art; All A’s in all Quarters in Health & Physical Education; Excellence in Social Studies; History Book Award; Athletic Varsity Letter for Football Cheering 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Athletic Varsity Letter for Basketball Cheering 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Ceara Zhang — Excellence in Studio Art; Student Council Leadership; All A’s in all Quarters in Health; Excellence in Social Studies; Excellence in Calculus & AP Statistics; Key Club Top Ranked Student


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