For the Class of 2020 at Auburn High School, it has been a rough senior year. Fall sports and other outdoor activities were impacted by mosquitoes as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (triple E) surged and the West Nile Virus persisted, and that was just the beginning.
When March 12 came along, all schools were closed and remote learning began. There were no spring sports including a very promising baseball season, residential internet services were stained, and a lot of people had to figure out a lot of stuff. There was no Prom, and Graduation was postponed on orders from the Commonwealth. Our lead photograph was taken back in 2018 during a more normal graduation.
Principal Casey Handfield described the last three months, “Very challenging. The most challenging of my time in education.” Handfield added, “The kids are really resilient.”
There is also a lot of work yet to be done. Just today, Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle announced the first meeting of the APS Return to School Team, and there will be many new challenges to safely get children back into the classrooms.
Handfield said the Class of 2020 is “as strong of a class as we’ve ever had. Impressive.” This year, there are Co-Valedictorians, Maura Anish and Amanda Healy. Aside from earning this honor, these women have been best friends for many years. In total, 182 will receive diplomas this year.
The official graduation is scheduled for July 31st on Memorial Field, but there were things that had to happen first. On May 15th, about a dozen AHS teachers split up to deliver caps and gowns, a gift bag and a lawn sign to each senior. Then there was the parade which included many class members safely distanced in vehicles.
Finally, last Friday, the original graduation date, another faculty group made some special diploma presentations. Principal Handfield, Spencer Kennard, Andy Niedzwiecki, Erik Berg (Rocket Man), and class advisors Melissa LaBeaume and Ashley Isgro boarded the white bus and hit the road. Abby Frost was first up. Her father, State Representative Paul Frost, is required to be in Boston on the 31st and will miss graduation.
Second was an honorary presentation to Bella (Isabella) Capaldi, the late daughter of Ralph and Kimberley Capaldi. Bella died from cancer when she was 18 months old and would have been a member of the class of 2020. Handfield said, “You can always be kind.”
Next was Aaron Pigeon who is President of the Class of 2020 and will be heading to the United States Air Force Academy before the end of July. He is the first Auburn High graduate to be selected for the Academy since the late David Brodeur.
Finally, Brayden Oldham was presented with his diploma. He ships out to basic training for the United States Marine Corps prior to graduation.
Handfield told Auburn Mass Daily, “It’s always going to be about kids, and that will never change.”
These presentations took place on a miserable hot and humid evening, but the faculty agreed that graduation in the gymnasium would have been equally uncomfortable.
Auburn Mass Daily will publish complete details about the Class of 2020 and their accomplishments as graduation approaches.