main content starts hereDistance brought the Class of ’21 closer

| June 25, 2021

It was a night of reflection, celebration and sighs of relief as the pandemic is, fingers-crossed, is coming to an end. Now, life as a Mohonasen alum begins for the Class of ’21.

Seniors, their families, and Mohonasen faculty and administrators gathered at Jericho Drive-In in Glenmont in the COVID-friendly open air to watch the pre-recorded graduation ceremony play out on the big screen.

The seniors enter the big world as adults and Mohonasen graduates.

“It was like we blinked at our Kindergarten graduation and ended up at our high school graduation,” said Caitlin Pusz, who delivered the Commencement Introduction. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the full four years of high school due to the pandemic, but we made the best of it.”

The pandemic, predictably, threaded itself through the remarks in the nearly 90-minute ceremony, marked by a perfect early-summer evening and a culminating fireworks display.

It was the conclusion of a tough year, academically and emotionally.

“First off, everyone please let out a breath of relief. We made it,” said Sydni Signore, a Top 10 senior. “My classmates, you made it. All of the faculty, staff and parents, you made it, too. You made it possible for all of us to be here today.”

Superintendent of Schools Shannon delivered “Mr. Shine’s Graduation Top 10 List” – a series of motivational remarks that reinforced some of the rules of life, such as being kind, treating others with dignity and respect, serving others, and striking¬† a balance in life between work, family, community, church, play and more.

“Make your avocation your vocation, if possible,” Mr. Shine asked of the class. “Figure out what you’re passionate about and then, if you can, try to make it a full-time job.”

Board of Education President Lisa Gaglioti, implored graduates to be confident in their pursuits. “As you leave Mohonasen, believe in yourself, challenge yourself, love and learn. Be empathetic, be kind, don’t hate, enjoy life and have fun.”

It was a fun and inspirational night, thanks to the reflections of students, staff and district leaders.

Michael Jurgelon had fun, making light of the earlier days of the pandemic as he offered his opening remarks on the recording. “The COVID experience taught us important life lessons,” he said. “We learned to be compassionate, we learned to to help our neighbors, and that life can change in a moment. But above all else, we learned the most important thing you need (pause) is toilet paper.”

Jade Sardos, also a Top 10 Senior, gave the Keynote Address, recalling how she, as a freshman, needed a map to navigate the high school halls. But now she can easily give someone directions to anywhere in the building, even if they’re blindfolded.

“In a perfect world, it would be great if, with our diploma, we were handed another map: ‘turn here to find your major, and head down this hallway to find the perfect job,'” she said. “It would be a map for the rest of our lives. But that’s not going to happen. Today we have to make the map ourselves. We’re the ones who will make the future better and brighter for generations to come.”

In her portion of the program, Sydni Signore alluded to the challenges they faced during the pandemic. “These years of adversity will definitely go down in history,” she said. “And so will the class of 2021.”