In the foreground, high school graduates sit facing a stage wearing decorated graduation caps on their heads. In the background, a student walks across a stage in a blue graduation robe and cap holding a diploma. The student is fist bumping a man in a black robe wearing sunglasses. He is surrounded by other school administrators in black robes who are clapping. The stage has a podium on it with the Mt. Blue "cougars" logo on it.

Valedictorian Isabelle Decker fist bumps interim Principal Joel Smith after receiving her diploma Sunday during the Mt. Blue High School commencement in Farmington. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — After a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning, social distancing and protective masks worn in class, Mt. Blue High School held an in-person, non-socially distanced ceremony Sunday to mark the school’s 51st commencement.

Unlike the 2020 graduation, at which graduates sat inside their cars and received their diplomas at a “drive-up ceremony,” the Class of 2021 sat together on Caldwell Field, with an audience filled with family members, teachers and administrators.

It was the first Mt. Blue graduation held outdoors in nearly 20 years.

Interim Principal Joel Smith, Class President Kyla Morgan and valedictorian Isabelle Decker delivered speeches during the ceremony. There were also three musical performances by graduates Scott Barber and Rachel Spear, Emma White and Taegan Heath and Spear.

Smith was first to welcome the graduates and their families. He acknowledged the “mind-blowing” opportunity to be together — maskless — during the ongoing pandemic, noting it was “the first day I’ve seen the Class of 2021 in one place since March 13, 2020.”

Smith gave the graduating class four pieces of life advice: “make your bed,” “be kind,” “be grateful” and “believe in yourself.”

“As we’ve all learned this year, nothing is guaranteed. Go out of your way to value the moment. Recognize and appreciate and respect the sacrifices of everyone who has helped you arrive here at your graduation,” Smith said. “In the future, when you find yourself in a moment of failure, count on the lessons you learned here at Mt. Blue. Know that your belief in yourself and your willingness to work hard will carry you along.”

In the foreground, high school graduates sit in blue robes and caps. Some of the caps are decorated with phrases, LGBTQ rainbow-flag colors, and personal pictures. In the background, a student in a robe and cap stands on stage speaking into a microphone. Next to the student is an ASL interpreter.

Class President Kyla Morgan speaks Sunday before the Mt. Blue High School commencement in Farmington. Morgan spoke of how she and others in the Class of 2021 are shaped by the people in their lives. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal Buy this Photo

In her speech to graduates, Morgan said she is “a mosaic of the people” in her life, as she paid tribute to various friends, family members and teachers who have shaped her over the years.

“Though these are my experiences, this is a universal truth: We are all affected by those around us. The people we have experienced high school with have changed our lives, for better or for worse. We are all mosaics of the people we encounter,” she said.

Decker used her speech to identify a lesson from each year she spent in school. Among them, she explained how she had learned “to color inside the lines” in kindergarten, that “change is inevitable” in eighth grade,” to “never take a hug for granted” in 11th grade (when the coronavirus pandemic began) and “to color outside the lines” in 12th grade.

“I hope all of my fellow students have learned to color outside the lines, as well,” Decker said. “Great things don’t come from doing what is expected. By forging our own paths, we can achieve far more than anyone could imagine.”

Following the speeches, the 142 students received their high school diplomas, and two received international student certificates of attendance.

Of those students, three graduated summa cum laude, six magna cum laude and 22 cum laude.


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