PHOTO GALLERY: Brandywine Class of 2021 celebrates making it through pandemic challenges

When the Class of 2021 entered its senior year, they knew the details of their own pomp and circumstance were dependent on, well, circumstance.

After a junior year filled with canceled events, shortened sports seasons and distance learning, speakers at this year’s graduation each took time to celebrate the fact that they were able to celebrate together Sunday.

Co-valedictorian Morgan Horvath said the last two years were a testament to not only the seniors graduating that day, but the community as a whole.

“As the Class of 2021, we didn’t know what kind of year we would be facing not only as seniors in high school, but as well as a community trying to make it through the twists and turns of the pandemic,” she said. “From day one of this year, every single event we have been building up to for the last 12 years was up in the air. Everything iconic about the high school experience was at risk, with no way of telling what could be taken away or when.”

Co-valedictorian Ann Youngs reflected on all she and her classmates had experienced in their time together, including their difficult junior year.

“Everything was perfect until that one day in March. I’m sure many of us remember that day very clearly,” she said. “Getting let out of class early to clean out our lockers in hopes we would be returning to school after spring break.”

With COVID-19 numbers rising, school never returned in-person for the Class of 2020.

“Our bedrooms became board rooms and our kitchen counters became classrooms, and that is how we finished out our junior year,” Youngs said. “It was hard — I’ll be the first to say it, but our class never gave up.”

As schools opened doors in fall 2020 and allowed students a somewhat normal experience, the speakers said they were thankful for a “somewhat normal” senior year.

Megan Wieger followed in all three of her brothers’ footsteps as co-valedictorian. Her brothers, Matt, Brian and Jacob, each topped their respective classes, and the youngest, Wieger, kept the tradition alive.

As she addressed her fellow classmates, Wieger shared a quote her parents raised her on.

“John F. Kennedy once said, ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” Wieger said. “As we gather here today to celebrate our graduation, the culmination of our success and hard work, I want each of us to recognize three gifts we all have been given: the first of which is support.”

Wieger thanked her teachers, family, friends, coaches and community for their mentorship before listing the other two gifts: education and opportunity.

“I encourage you all to make the most of everything you do, and never pass up opportunities that you come across in the future,” she said.

Salutatorian Meagan Platz congratulated her classmates on a job well done, and reminded them to hold on to the lessons learned while in school.

“Throughout my time here at Brandywine, one of the most influential lessons I have learned is that education is not based on the number or the grade in the grade book, but the knowledge and intellect you carry with you from the subject,” she said. “So my fellow classmates, please look back on everything that has happened here and reflect on the bigger picture. Through perseverance, drive and passion, you can achieve anything.”

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