As each of the 315 members of the Keene High School Class of 2020 received their diplomas Saturday, Principal Jim Logan reminded them to move their tassel from the right side of their cap to the left, a time-honored tradition signifying their graduation.
Then, he told them to take off their masks so they could smile for a photo in front of the school’s main entrance.
Students and their families began arriving at Keene High around 10 a.m., shortly after the conclusion of a pre-recorded commencement ceremony streamed live on the school district’s website and social media platforms. One by one, graduates exited their vehicles — many of them decorated with orange and black balloons, streamers and painted messages like “We are so proud of you” — and accepted their diplomas.
The ceremony, which provided a safe and socially distant celebration in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, lasted well into the afternoon, but the celebratory mood stayed strong. As vehicles left the parking lot, a group of school staff applauded and shouted, “Congratulations,” “Good luck” and “We’ll miss you!” People walking by stopped and cheered for the graduates, and passing cars offered congratulatory honks.
During the virtual ceremony that began the day, senior class vice president Samantha Anger, who served as the event’s mistress of ceremonies, acknowledged the celebration was unconventional.
“I know that this has not been the year that we had envisioned,” Anger said.
But, she continued, “I believe we have a much deeper appreciation for this ceremony because of all that each one of us has endured. And as we come together today to acknowledge and honor the Keene High School graduates, I would like to remind my class that everything really does happen for a reason, and we will emerge as stronger, more influential and motivated individuals because of the challenges we face.”
Robert Malay, superintendent of N.H. School Administrative Unit 29, in his remarks to the students, said he remembers clearly the Class of 2020’s first days at Keene High, when he referred to the group as “the class with a clear vision.”
“I don’t think any of us could have imagined what that would have meant four years later,” Malay said. “And as we have learned, that vision may not have been as clear as we might have thought when you entered as freshmen. Yet through it all, you persevered. You showed and demonstrated your resilience. You showed just how much grit you have, and you never gave up.”
Mackenzie McGreer, senior class president, said she expected nothing less of her peers, who come from Keene, Chesterfield, Harrisville, Marlborough, Marlow, Nelson, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Westmoreland and Winchester.
“We are a generation built to overcome anything,” McGreer said. “Think about it. Many of us were born right before or right after the events of 9/11. Our country and our world changed in unimaginable ways following 2001. ... Even though we don’t remember it, that event charted our course, began to shape us into the people we would become and built one of the most resilient generations in history.”
Now, McGreer added, they are stepping out into the world in the middle of a pandemic.
“The events that we have experienced up to this point in our lives have given us the strength and the stamina to overcome any obstacle,” she said. “And it is our education thus far, our time at Keene High School, that has provided us with the information, mindset and determination to change the world in unimaginable ways.”
And if the Class of 2020 is going to effect that sort of change, valedictorian Yuliya Subotskaya told her classmates, it is up to them to put in the work.
“I am positive that all of us have exciting, bright futures ahead of us,” she said. “If the world is going to get any better than the headlines filled with injustice and fear that we see today, it’s going to be up to us to step up and do the work.”
Harry Lawrence Ackerman IV, Xzavier Maurice Aguilera, Gwendolyn Patricia Andrus, Samantha Ashley Anger, Andrew Orion Archambault, Caleb Dean Arlen, Clayton Richard Arlen, Nathaniel John Asseng, Anna Noelle Auclair, Olivia Mae Auger, Aidan Benjamin Austin, Karlos Radhames Baez, Kile Alan Bailey, Trevor Michael Bailey, Cassidy Anne Barcome, Lucas Michael Beard, Gabriel B. Bent, Nathaniel Adrian Bent, Levi Austin Bills, Walker Henry Birch, Elijah James Blake, Hunter McCall Blanchette, Jasmin Renee Bonilla, Emily Iris Boswell, Max Joseph Bradford, Josiah Benjamin Brinson, Benjamin Aaron Brown, Katie Elizabeth Brown, Natalie Arlene Elizabeth Brzeski, Patrick Taylor Buckley Reynolds, Lydia Paige Bunszel, Andrew Franklin Burge, Sage Marie Butler, Dylan Michael Cady, Fiona Grace Caffrey, Emma Theresa Cahoon, Tayler Michelle Card, Lael Marcelle Carey, Hayden Michael Carney, Joshua David Castor, Karthik Chalumuri, Rahul Chalumuri, Lauryn E. Chamberlain, Si Ying Chen, Jonathan Taylor Cheney, Benjamin P. Chou, Gwyneth Ann Clark, Kathryn Mae Clark, Matthew David Coleman, Hunter Ivan Conley, Trever Brett Cooke, Mackenzie Corrigan, Cailyn Elizebeth Costa, Sophie Beth Craven, John Manley Croteau, Isabel Victoria Cuevas, Andrew Brian Cushman, Natalie Grace Davidson, Keith James Amaru Dear, Elizabeth Lily DeKeyrel, Jackson Hunter DeLong, Alea Alice Denney, Jake Garyt Dennis, Zacary Michel Dennis, Andrew Michael Descoteaux, Madison Elizabeth Desrosiers, Ashlee Jade Discenzo-Knapp, Alexander David Doll, Jacqueline Kristine Doucette, Paige Rebecca Dowd, Graham Driscoll-Carignan, Tirzar Nadine Drouin, Christopher Reuben Duncan, Courtney Rose Dunham, Johnathan Taylor Durrant, Samuel David Eaton, Evan Arthur Edson, Travis Clifford Emery, Mikaila Grace Emmond, Ethan Andrew Fairbanks, Alexander Wayn Farris, Trevor Reed Hyung Wook Fay, Jenna Marie Feld, Benjamin Franklin Feola-Mahar, Crystal Marie Fiset, Makenzie Brooke Fiset, Bailey Gary Fisher, Moses John Paul Fisher, Isabelle Sara Fleuette, William Kincaid Blais Foot, Alexus Marie Ford, Hallie Isabelle Fournier, Emily Alicia Fowler, Henri David Fugere, Austin Chase Gaffney, Isabel Leigh Garcia, Lucius David Garland, Rowan Jeffrey Gemma, Ryan James Genes, Jamen Michael Gensure Jr., Devin Alan Gibbons, Reegan Fujing Gigliello-Roy, Gibson Michael Gitchell, Carly Jean Giza, Bianca Marie Gonzalez, Ashlee Mackenzie Gordon, Kyleigh Marie Gordon, Alexa Clare Grace, Molly Marie Gray, Owen Martin Greenwood, Robert Edward Greenwood, Clayton Marshall Guptill, Madeleine Rae Hall, Joshua Frederick Hamilton, Sarah Elizabeth Hansel, Hannah Lynn Harvey, Calvin Jacob Harville, Gabrielle Marie Hayden, Connor Jameson Headings, Reese Parker Hescock, Olivia Gail Hewey, Sarah Kaitlyn Hildreth, Madison Ann Hoefer, Shaun Jessie Holbrook, Anthony C. Hollenbeck, Evan Lewis Holland, Eliza Grace Holmes, Kaylee May Hope, Madalyn Emmaleigh Howard, Madison Delaney Howard, Samuel Baxter Howard, Emma Hayleigh Hutchins, Kristian Gage Hutchins, John Peter Kamphuis, Kelsey Anne Keating, Sarah Anne Kelly, Gavin Thomas Key, Cooper Mason Knowles, Henry Kyung Min Kostick, Canicka Marinna Koy, Allison Ruby Labadie, Kathryn Lynn Ladd, Makenna Lynn LaMott, Gavinn Joseph Lamoureux, Atiana Alexis Lancaster, Brian Timothy Langevin, Hristianna Lanoue, Richard Stewart Lapointe Jr., John Vincent Lapp, Julian Marcello LaScala, Meredith Anne Lewis, Anna Ruth Lilly, Jimmy Lin, Jorden Lawrence Linge, Eli Root Littleton, Rhianna Rose Logan, Owen Michael Lowry, Ariyanah Lee Lucius, Keenan John Machado, Andrea Danielle Majewski, Maria Ellen Majewski, Clinton Hathaway Maleski, Taylor William Maliska, Savannah Moon Marcello, Tyler Joseph Mark, Jason Mathew Marshall Jr., Ashleigh MacKenzie Marshall, Kaylee Emma Marshall, Tanner Boyd Marshall, Joshua Steven Maslowski, Iyas Massoud, Cole Jacob Masterson, Miranda Rose May, Maddison Mary Louise Mayhew, Delaney Rose McGratty, Mackenzie Elizabeth McGreer, Nicholas George McPherson, Devon Cantrell Meeks, Hanna Marie Mesic, Tianna Lorraine Messer, Megan Elizabeth Michaud, Thomas Jeffrey Migneault, Sebastion Matthew Miller, Maddison Elizabeth Miner, Aubrey Elizabeth Mitchell, Paul Timothy Morelli, Logan Michael Morin, Alexis Tia Morton, Anessa Lynn Murphy, Lorah Murphy, Tyler Gerard Murphy, Nicholas Nadeau, Steven Ronald Napoli Jr., Nova Starr Neiman, Tanner Mark Nettleton, Madison Elizabeth Nicol-Beaudin, Samuel Ronald Nimmer, Jack Grammo Noyes, Claire Katherine O’Connor, Caleb Spear O’Mara, Brooke Shelby Oster, Isabel Rose Ostroski, Dallen Jon Ouellette, Emma Lynn Irene Paige, MaKayla Lynnsea Panzer, Alexander Theodore Paris, Elizabeth Jane Parshall, Logan Matthew Patnode, Riley Daniel Patnode, Isabella Maria Serebrov Patterson, Elizabeth Jae Peate, Jordyn Mae Pendilla, Benjamin Henry Perkins, Kaleb Austin Perkins, Jason Andrew Perra, Kate Genevieve Perrin, Abigail Ann Peschel, Logan Andrew Phillips, Luke Michael Piers, Alyson Robin Pilat, Destinee Paige Plaisted, Gunnar Lee Postrech, Thomas Anthony Pouliot, Alison Claire Power, Andrew Holden Prah, Owen Mark Pratt, Anna Elisabeth Preston, Nathan Thomas Priebe, Julia Ryan Priest, John Tobin Prieto, Thomas Orion Prock, Grace Nicole Provencher, Tristan Jacob Provencher, Nicholas Cole Ramirez, Alexandra Marie Ramsey, Mikayla Marie Si Jun Randall, Thomas Gerald Randall, Nathan Richard Reina, Krista Lynn Reppard, Emily Barlow Richardson, Emmaline Riendeau, Roberto Daniel Riesco, Cade Ian Rinker, Aidan Michael Robarge, Owen James Robertson, Jada Rue Robichaud, Alexander Paul Francis Rodier, Amanda Marian Frances Rogers, Genevieve Summer Rogers, Tyler Christopher Rogers, Gweneth Mae Rondeau, Camden Arno Round, James Patrick Rounds, Desirae Rebecca Russell, Sergio Alessio Sartini, Calum Edward Sault, Erin Molly Scanlan, Logan Alfred Schick, Duncan Ivus Schoefmann, Alyx Robin Scott, Samantha Jo Shapiro, Konner Michael Sheehan, Elizabeth Marilyn Sheldon, Calvin Edward Shemchuk, Shanti Silverstein-Belden, Jakob Damian Jennings Simonetti, Alexzandria Kathleen Skrocki, John Victor Smart, Jeremy Joseph Smith Jr., Owen George Smith, Ana Julia Soria Hurtado, Marcus Ralph Soucia, Hailey Beth Soule, Jasmine Vernay Staggers, Madison Leigh Stoddard, Charlene Patricia Stroble, Kimberly Marie Struthers-Howe, Yuliya V. Subotskaya, Cameron Jonathan Tattersall, Jerred Christopher Tattersall, Logan Patrick Thatcher, Sophia Natalia Thisner, Noah Jamison Timmer, Henry Allen Tomasko, Waylon Benson Towle, Lowell Francis Trahan, Mina Tran, Hailey Corrine Trudell, Thomas George Tsohonis Jr., Andrew Lindsay Ulrich, Keegan Isaac Vann, Michael Justin Vazquez, Jake Traviss Velazquez, Connor Joseph Walker, Lindsey Ann Walker, Joseph Timothy Walsh, Kassidy Elisabeth Walsh, Shandria Louise Waters, Lily Anne Marie Westerman, Kaitlyn Marie Wheeler, Darius Miles White, Joseph Scott Wellington Whiting, Latham Norman Wilber, Megan Rose Willard, Marisa Anna Williams, Joseph Norman Wilson, Madison Ann Wilson, Adam Michael Winters, Anthony Blake Witfoth, Damon Daniel Wong and Sean Avery Zimmerman.