Mahar salutes its 96 grads: ‘You are the hope of our future’

  • Seniors sign the national anthem at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation on Friday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Seniors file onto the football field at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation on Friday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Gracie Ann Marsh helps Hannah Laurel Dupont with her mortarboard before the processional at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation on Friday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A child tries to join the processional at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation on Friday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Seniors gather in the gymnasium before the processional at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation on Friday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Superintendent Elizabeth Teahan-Zielinski speaks at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation on Friday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/4/2021 8:44:36 PM

ORANGE — The 2021 Ralph C. Mahar Regional School graduation did not resemble that of 2020. And this fact was not lost on anyone at the James S. Woodward Athletic Complex on Friday.

One year after the global COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a virtual commencement, 96 seniors sat in red or blue gowns for the beginning of the rest of their lives.

Elizabeth Teahan-Zielinski, finishing her first year as superintendent of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional and Union 73 school districts, welcomed the graduates and their loved ones to cap off a year thrown off kilter by COVID-19.

“Today is a day of celebration and joy, not only for the graduates who are going to walk across the stage having earned their high school diploma from R.C. Mahar Regional,” she said, “but for all of us who have been witnesses to the journey of their life until this moment in time.

“I would ask that you would think back upon the very first day that you entered school,” she continued. “Graduates, do you recall if you were frightened, excited, tired, worried that you wouldn’t make friends? Parents and caregivers, what were you feeling at that time? Were you worried, excited or afraid that your little one wouldn’t make friends? Now look at them now, young men and women who are ready to take the next step in their life’s journey.”

Teahan-Zielinski told the graduates their educational careers have consisted of far more than simply walking through the doors of a building or a classroom. They learned to read, write, think critically, and balance the demands of family, school and their social lives.

“Whether you know this or not, you are the hope of our future as a democratic society,” she said. “Before me are young men and women who are being launched into the next episode of their life’s journey. Some of you will go on to college, some of you will go into the world of work and may have multiple careers in the course of your entire life. Some of you will serve our country in one of the branches of the military. Each and every decision that you make, going forward, is going to be based on your current experience up until this day.”

Senior Mattie Budine took to the podium and said there was a great deal of uncertainty encompassing senior year. She recalled the different ways she and her classmates learned in their final year of high school — from fully remote to hybrid to mostly in person, with a few students still online.

“I’m not going to lie and say it was all sunshine and rainbows though. A lot of us struggled, we got frustrated, and tears were shed. I know personally that a lot of people’s patience got tested and we all had to relearn how to work with other people again,” she said. “And I am not going to say it’s going to be smooth sailing from here on out, because it’s not. We will have to prove ourselves and fight for what we believe if we want to grow. And I feel that this year was a good training year for that. We got a taste of what struggle feels like so now we are prepared to take on bigger challenges and climb higher mountains.”

For more graduation coverage, including graduates' names, award winners and speeches, see the Recorder's June 30 special section commemorating the Class of 2021.

 

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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