WLC seniors celebrate graduation at drive-in theater

By BEN CONANT

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-08-2020 2:32 PM

Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School valedictorian Madeline Smith needed just five words to sum up the Class of 2020 experience: “It sucks, but it’s special.”

WLC’s 29 seniors were born into a world still reeling from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lived most of their lives with war ongoing in the Middle East, made their way through the recession of 2008 and graduated Friday amid a global pandemic and nationwide civil unrest. Just as they’ve done since the COVID-19 crisis forced schools into remote learning, the seniors and the WLC community got creative for the graduation, held at the Milford Drive-In to allow families to watch from their cars as the Warriors strode across the stage to receive their diplomas.

“When I first took this job five years ago, I never thought I’d be in this position, giving a commencement speech at a drive-in movie theater,” said speaker and social studies teacher Zachary Provost during his address. “But to be fair, I didn’t know there was a drive-in movie theater left in New Hampshire.”

Families filled the parking lot first, cars fanned out facing the big screen and the small stage in front; then, led by a police escort, the senior class arrived, each in their own vehicles, to park in front of the stage and sit beside their cars on folding chairs. The speeches weren’t met with applause or laughter, but rather the din of car horns honking their appreciation.

“Nobody ever imagined that we would spend our last day in school in the middle of March,” said salutatorian Kaitlin LoVerme in her speech. “However, when a challenge or difficult task is thrown at you, you have two options. You can either run from it or you can face it head on. In this case, the challenge was doing school online and from home. Giving up when we were so close to being finished was not an option. We had to persevere through the difficulties until we reached the end. In life, there will be many obstacles that we will have to overcome. Running from something hard is not always the best option; the problem is still going to be there. Facing challenges head on is the better solution. Yes, it will be tough and you might make mistakes, but in the end it will make you stronger.”

Under a blistering sun, students stood to be recognized for their honors and scholarships, awarded for their academic, athletic, and community service achievements. Over $82,000 in scholarships – donated by local businesses and community members – was awarded Friday, paving the way for a bright future for the Class of 2020. 

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“We have been and must continue to be resilient,” Smith said in her valedictorian speech. “The class of 2020 has grown up in a time of uncertainty, from 9/11 to a pandemic. We’ve been adaptable and now we need to be strong. Who knows what entering the workforce will be like, or if colleges will hold in-person classes in the fall? We will get through it though, as we have gotten through everything thus far. There is no saying yet how long things will be up in the air, but normalcy will eventually come and we can begin to enjoy our adult lives as every class before us has...With all luck this will pass sooner than later and we can get jobs without needing to wear masks and meet roommates without fear of transmission. Until then, all we can do is be thankful for what we have and be hopeful for what will be.”

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