The rain held off Thursday morning, and the Walkersville Lions’ Class of 2021 finished their journey together after more than a year of largely being apart.
Senior Adamah Jackson struggled to tell who was who among some of his classmates after a year with virtual school, as people had grown and changed a lot since they were all last together in the school in March 2020.
“I’ve seen so many faces that I haven’t even recognized,” Jackson said.
There was some question whether Thursday’s ceremony would happen as planned.
After threats of thunderstorms serious enough to cause Frederick County Public Schools to put together a contingency plan for graduations at Walkersville, Catoctin and Urbana high schools Thursday, all three ceremonies went on as planned.
For much of the year, Jackson was skeptical of whether the COVID-19 pandemic would let his class have an in-person graduation at all.
He and his classmates spent the past year “trying to get used to the new normal,” he said.
Virtual learning was hard for someone like him who likes the “tunnel vision” of being in class. But despite the trials of the pandemic, Jackson feels like the adversity has taught he and the rest of his class to look at the bright side of things.
FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban reminded the graduates that crisis can build as well as reveal character.
“Now is your time to create positive change in the world,” Alban said.
In a farewell address to her classmates, Maggie Molnar said after everything they’ve been through, she was especially glad to be surrounded by all of them as they said goodbye.
They missed out on many opportunities from their senior year, she said. But if they can overcome those obstacles, they can overcome anything.
The switch to hybrid learning in the midst of the year was anti-climactic, said Dorlisa Anorchie as she and her classmates lined up in the hallways waiting to go out to the school’s football stadium for the ceremony.
She thought she would be able to see all her friends again, but with the shorter school days and other adjustments, a lot of what she expected didn’t happen.
“I don’t really get to have my senior year,” she said.
Emily Cook said she thinks the pandemic has taught her class to roll with the punches as well as perform under pressure.
When they left school last year, Cook was studying for some advanced placement tests and lost a lot of the teaching time that would have helped her prepare.
While she was a hybrid student for the second half of this year, she said she struggled with virtual learning this year and last.
“You felt really detached from everything,” she said.
But in a way, Cook said, she’s happy that she was a senior this year.
As things start to open up in society with more vaccinations and declining COVID numbers, she’ll get to start a new chapter in her life as society starts a new phase as well.