PHOTO STORY: Buchanan High School graduates Class of 2021

BUCHANAN — Friends, family and community members packed the stands at Memorial Field to see the Buchanan High School Class of 2021 together for one last time.

Decked out in their caps, gowns, stoles, sashes and stylish cap art, the 98 graduating seniors marched onto the field to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” before listening to statements from Superintendent Patricia Robinson and Principal Stacey DeMaio.

“Class of 2021, you have a whole new future ahead of you,” DeMaio said. “A future that has been undeniably changed by the circumstances surrounding this global pandemic that we have been living and thriving through. While there are still many more changes that still need to happen in our world, you are equipped to make those changes in yourself and in others.”

From there, Buchanan’s five senior speakers — Merissa Jackson, valedictorians Caden Mattingly and Katie DeVlaminck, Rose Sherwood and Raquell George — delivered on what were their final assignments as high school students and reflected on their time as Bucks.

Mattingly highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement as a touchstone that resonated with himself as well as the community.

“I strongly believe the events of this movement have helped educate us and shape us for the world,” he said. “Teaching us that equality is still not fully achieved in America, but now we can do our part to help it get there. As Angela Davis says, ‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’ That is the mindset I encourage you to have as we leave Buchanan.”

DeVlaminck used the bulk of her speech to thank everyone for helping the class reach commencement.

“As I look upon the stands I see the parents who came to all the games, bought us materials for the history fair, and pushed us to finish that assignment that was due at 11:59 just to make sure that we would get here today,” she said. “Right across from them are the teachers who cheered us on at games, bought us materials to succeed in their classes, and also pushed us to get that assignment done at midnight. We, the class of 2021, are proud to sit in the middle of the two groups of people who taught, joked, helped, and loved us. Thank you for everything you have done for us, teachers and parents.”

She went on to congratulate her classmates for enduring more than a year of schooling amid the pandemic.

“We had to overcome many challenges,” DeVlaminck said. “Going online for five different sessions, finding motivation to do our work, the ancelation of sports, friend withdrawals, and dealing with mental problems as we drove into our senior year with masks on our face. Even though these problems challenged us, we, all 97 of us, are the ones who survived and cleared the path to help others follow our lead and be motivated by all we have accomplished.”

George capped the speeches with a vocal performance of Paul Anka’s song “My Way,” earning a rousing ovation from those in attendance for her efforts.

After George’s performance, Buchanan Community Schools Board of Education President Harvey Burnett presented all 97 graduates with their diplomas. Salutatorian Serynn Nowlin led her class in the turning of the tassel.

At long last, after 12 years of hard work, this group of bucks officially left the woods.

“You are the spark that will light the world and guide it toward a brighter, kinder future,” DeMaio said. “Take the challenges that you have faced, and will continue to face in the many years ahead, and use them as opportunities to grow and cultivate a better world for yourself and others. Take what you have learned these past twelve years and use it wisely to exact positive change as you begin your new journey.”

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