Voorheesville’s 2020 graduates: ‘A special class for a unique circumstance’

— From Always in Focus Photography

Voorheesville Class of 2020 graduate Ayla Morwin raises her diploma as school board President Cynthia M. Monaghan celebrates. 

NEW SCOTLAND — David Lawrence is one of the teachers who Voorheesville’s Class of 2020 would go to if they had problems.

And given that students had lost the last three months of the school year to the coronavirus pandemic, he told The Enterprise, “I thought I was going to get a lot of emails or video conferences [with students] just pouring their hearts out about the loss of their senior year of high school.”

He should have known better.

“They were just like, ‘You know what, we’re rallying together and we’re trying to get through this together. We know it’s tough, but we know we’re going to be OK, and brighter things are ahead of us.’ I mean, this really was a special class for a unique circumstance,” said Lawrence, who is a social studies teacher at Voorheesville as well as one of the senior class advisors.  

Salutatorian Julia Francis told The Enterprise that, yes, senior year had been a “difficult situation,” but said, “I believe it’s allowed us to adapt to change, and it’s really taught us a lot of life lessons that are going to help us in our future” — for example, communication.  

But Francis didn’t dwell on the time she was home because of COVID-19, Rather, she said, senior year was still “amazing” because “of all the time we had” prior to the pandemic.

On June 26, at the commencement ceremony held on the school’s athletic fields, Francis told the other 90 graduating seniors of the Clayton A. Bouton High School Class of 2020: “Our class is like one big, fun, slightly dysfunctional family.”

Family members and friends watched from their parked cars while the graduates sat in folding chairs, spaced out on the field, as images of the speakers were projected on a large screen.

One of her favorite things about growing up in Voorheesville, Francis said during the drive-in graduation ceremony, was going to a school where all of her classmates knew one another, for the most part. 

“We’ve known each other from our first days of preschool and kindergarten, to this last day as seniors in high school together,” she said. “We have shared so many memories that I know I will be able to look back on.”

Some of the friendships built in Voorheesville will be lifelong, said Francis, who will study nursing at the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

“Maybe someday, when we’re 40 years old and we get good news, we’ll call our best friend from high school,” she said. “And no matter how much time has passed, it’ll feel like the last time you talked was yesterday.”

Class Valedictorian Renée Bogdany, during her June 26 speech, said, “I know this isn’t what I expected from my senior year. The last day was a random Friday in March where Ms. Simon was telling our chemistry class that we definitely have school on Monday, but we never went back.”

But Bogdany, who will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology and study human-centered computing, told The Enterprise that the district did a lot to try to make this year special for the senior class, like putting on the parade through the village and holding social-media challenges, adding that her classmates made the best of an unprecedented situation.

And what Bogdany asked her fellow graduates to take away from her June 26 speech was: “You should learn as much as you can. Learn from your experiences, learn from your past mistakes, and learn from everyone around you. Never stop learning.”


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