Groton — Under the overhang outside the front entrance of Marine Science Magnet High School on Tuesday evening, Elizabeth Clang stepped up to the podium between speeches, playing Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” on her violin, her 67 classmates behind her.
The chorus lyrics not sung are, “It’s something unpredictable / But in the end it’s right / I hope you had the time of your life.”
The COVID-19 pandemic meant the tail end of high school was certainly unpredictable for the Class of 2021 — though salutatorian Arielle Frommer also noted the class wasn’t the most mature or enthusiastic at the beginning, but was patient.
“How do I summarize the tale of our class? We dealt with disappointments and then victories, emerging from the chaos of our tumultuous early years to form unbreakable bonds and create a legacy as a spirited and passionate class,” said Frommer, who is going to Harvard University. “My favorite part of MSMHS has always been you.”
She shared memories of a Valentine’s Day dance, and winning Field Day as sophomores. While the class didn’t win this year, she said they had the most spirit, and “this year tried to break us, but Field Day proved that these bonds are unbreakable.”
Valedictorian Emily Tarinelli, who is going to Mount Holyoke College, reflected on how teachers taught them “to consider complex ideas with nuance and empathy,” and to “investigate challenging questions.”
“Our education becomes valuable when we apply what we learn to our lives and the world beyond — to become global citizens and contributing members of society,” she said. Tarinelli said the Class of 2021 has “experienced a universal reckoning — of public health, of injustice, and even within ourselves,” but they “have emerged from adversity stronger than ever before.”
Class speaker Guillem Colom talked about the virtues of kindness, saying that kindness is when we encourage others to be on the right side of history, and when we invite others to a seat at the table.
Class President Effie Petropoulos also encouraged kindness. She said that the class “did not get the perfect senior year that television and movies portray,” but the isolation and distance primed them to make the most of their final weeks.
The ceremony itself was also unusual: Graduation is traditionally held at the Coast Guard Academy, but it was held outside the school, with some guests in folding chairs around the flagpole and others sitting in lawn chairs surrounding the mulch.
This was also the first graduation for Principal Tara Amatrudo, who said that while graduation is always her favorite day of the year, “this year feels triumphant,” as the school community opened themselves to new ways of teaching and learning.
But the ceremony also stuck to some traditions, such as the presentation of the wheel to the next class and of the class shield, painted by Elisabeth May and Abigail Morrissey.