PETERBOROUGH — The ConVal Regional High School Class of 2020 waited a long time for graduation.

They worked hard for it, too. Class representatives met weekly with school leaders beginning in mid-April, to help guide decisions on events like prom and graduation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They were so instrumental in really trying to craft the event today,” Principal Michelle Voto said in an interview before the ceremony Saturday evening. “ ... This evening is a culmination of their four years, and also a reflection of how things in our world are complicated. They’ve stepped up, and really have showcased their generosity.

“They’ve shown their not only generosity, but their leadership capability of really making some hard decisions,” Voto continued. “There were hard decisions of not holding prom, or holding off graduation versus doing it in June with the hopes of having some sense of normalcy. These are not easy decisions, but they were definitely a part of that from the get-go.”

The format that seniors and school staff came up with for graduation did retain some features of a normal graduation. The graduates, who come from Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple, sat on the school’s football field, and listened to speakers before walking across the stage to collect their diplomas, and a yellow rose.

But the continued COVID-19 pandemic did force some changes. Students were limited to two guests each, and the groups of three sat together, with chairs set up in boxes spray-painted on the field and separated by more than six feet. They walked across the stage alone, taking their diplomas from a table, instead of receiving them directly from school leaders.

And at the ceremony Saturday evening, which was live-streamed online for those who could not make it, the graduates once again demonstrated their leadership, speaking bluntly about the challenges the world presents them, and their duty to work toward solving important problems like human rights abuses and climate change.

“As a group of young adults being thrown into this world of chaos, we need to be the ones to mend what’s broken,” valedictorian Casey Jordan said. “Unfortunately, we have been gifted a diseased planet. Generations before us have been able to pass the torch to their children without repercussions, but that is not an option anymore. Without significant change, this world we live in will struggle to survive. Denial is no longer an option.”

In the face of such daunting challenges, senior class president Jadyn Vaidya told his classmates that the responsibility to change the world falls on them, and they must act right now.

“Our current path is unsustainable, and if we wish to forge a better future for ourselves, it must start now,” Vaidya said in his welcome speech. “Speak out against injustice when you see it. Help your community. Become politically active. Whatever it may be, no matter the size or place, it will inevitably contribute to the tides of change we so desperately need. And although times may seem bleak now, I have no doubt that, together, we will remain steadfast in the face of such adversity.”

The class has already demonstrated its commitment to action by donating to End 68 Hours of Hunger, a food pantry in Peterborough that provides meals over the weekend to students experiencing food insecurity. The class initially collected $1,000 to donate to the program, which is based in Somersworth. At the graduation ceremony, class vice president Hunter Luke announced that they have donated an additional $6,800 to the food pantry.

“That’s because they feel so connected with the community and they know it’s challenging times for them, but they also know it’s challenging times for our whole community,” senior class adviser Jennifer Kiley said. “And they’re very invested in their community.”

For more on the graduates, visit www.sentinelsource.com/graduation_2020/

The graduates

The following 163 seniors graduated from ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough:

Mathew David Aho, Julia Kate Albert, Paulina Fielda Priscilla Allen, Shannon Victoria Allen, Elise Georgina Andres, Benjamin Wayne Asbury, Anastasia De’shania Barbosa, Jahnasia Angelina Barbosa, Adam Joseph Bernabeo, Oscar Henry Bernier, Lucas John Blanchette, Del Joseph Bonsu-Anane, Travis Joseph Booth, Connor Dixon Buffum, Taylor Donald Burgess, Jackson Liam Burnham, Justin Lee Burns, Haiden Patch Burnside, Sean Eastover Burwen, Caden Robert Worthington Cabana, Jaylin Grace Calistro, Madeline Jane Carpentiere, Ashlie Nicole Chandler, Dalton Robert Charleston, Ryan James Chmielecki, Grace Ann Christensen, Lucy Rose Civitella, Justin Joseph Clark, Alexis Rose Judith Cleary, Connor James Close, Garrick Arthur Colby, Molly Elizabeth Cole, Owen Michael Moses Collins, Jamison Robert Coty, Theodore Nicholas Eben Cross, Brianna Lynn Crowell, Ryan Patrick Cummings, Lexi Curtin, Robert Owen Dailey, Tracie Lynn Dailey, Dylan Edward Daume, Haley Elizabeth Davis, Isiah Roberto Debarros, Lily Jennifer Azucena Dell, Cruz Leeana Dellasanta, Jacob Robert Demers, Liam Samuel Denehy, Hailey Nicole Doherty, Hannah Larissa Doherty, Tessa Tenise Doherty, Logan Hunter Doyle, Aria Noel Drew, Nicholas David Drummond, Kayla Ann, Brooke Johanna Ellis, Trevor Machias Faber, Connor Patrick Farrell, Edward Jacob Forster, Skyler Isabelle Fortin, Spencer Douglas Fromm, Kayla Anne Gauthier, Nolan Geoffrey Gilbertson, Sean Patrick Grady, Shane Aaron Grant, Elizabeth Mae Guptill, Joseph Daniel Hall, Trevor Craig Gerald Hannon, Maximilian Paul Heck, Olivia Umeko Higgins, Emma Cynthia Hixson, Nikolas Mendior Hostetler, Jaden Asia Hubbard-Lemay, Grace Elizabeth Huntley, Rowan Michael Inglis, Lillian Kathleen James, Timothy William Jones, Casey Steven Jordan, Lana Rose Kavenagh, Kara Nichole Keiper, Paul Francis Kelly, Madeline Rita Kerwin, Izabella Grace Ketchersid, Justin Morgan Kiblin, Harrison Joon-Suh Kim, Catrina Marie Kipka, Mather McVey Kipka, Angus Michael Kirkpatrick, Colby Thomas Knight, Noah Casimer Krason, Margot Greta Kratzenberg, Zachary David Kriebel, Lena Marie LaFleur, Haven Mathew Lambert, Everett Samuel Landers, Gabriel Adam LeComte, Mackenzie Rose Ledger, Hunter Stanley Luke, Tre Michael MacLean, Jacqueline Sharon Madeja, Cameron Joseph Mandel, August Wilson Marshall, Brenna Ashton Martens, Liam Kenneth McCall, Ella Maeve McCullough, Hayley Irene Mcilvene, Petra V. McLay, Marina Mercedes McMahon, Angela Jean Molloy, Hayley Morgan Munroe, Osiris Horus Murray, Zachary Ross Nielsen, Garrett Paul Norby, Natasha Lynn Oldread, Corey Jay Ouellette, Hannah Aurora Peck, Josiah Myles Houghton Petrain, Dylan Andrew Pipher, Asia Susan Porter, Grace Alexandra Ramsden, Molly Kristina Reed, Lennart E. Romard, Ella Viola Rousseau, Max Wheeler Scheinblum, Mitchell Riley Schulz, Grace Elizabeth Sennett, Evan Lawrence Shippee, Andrew Loren Skillings, Tyler Thomas Snow, Rommel Karl Somero, Alyssa Rose Spiller, Morgan Elizabeth Stacy, Dylan Michael Stapleton, Fabian Lukas Steinberg, Isabella Paige Stone, Chevelle Lee Streeter, Rachel Patricia Sturges, Addison Elizabeth Swasey, William Henry Theriault, Rebecca Loran Thibault, Benjamin Hunter Thompson, Delaney Rose Thompson, Dylan Scott Tillman, Greta Rose Topping, Nicholas Jeffrey Tower, Marguerite Ines Tremblay, Cole Jacob Turner, Evan John Turner, Bryson Scott Tyminski, Jadyn Kerav Vaidya, Logan Aragon Valentin, Odessa Louise Vassar, Evan Cole Wagner, Tarin Bank Wangtrakuldee, Abigale Suzanne Watson, Finn Wegmueller, Patrick Eamon Welby, Zoe Mackenzie Werth, Peter Thomas Wetherill, Nicholas Dominic White, Noa Sebastian Wilson, Kendra Ryan Wing, Jarrett Dalton Whole, Caroline Scott Yates, Jared Alan Zett.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.