Forced To Adapt, Nauset Seniors Celebrate Perseverance

by Ryan Bray

EASTHAM – For most graduating seniors, there's a period of adjustment to life after high school. But adjustment is something that the Nauset Regional High School Class of 2024 has long grown accustomed to.

After all, this is a class that entered high school in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. As freshmen, students learned to adapt to a previously unprecedented way of schooling, from wearing masks and social distancing in public to remote learning. Later in their Nauset tenure, they endured the start of construction on a new high school campus, which has since redirected classes into modular classrooms.

“We adjusted to a bulldozed campus and modules, waiting for a new campus that we’ll never enjoy,” joked Class President Violet Bosworth.

All of this may have made for a trying start to their high school careers. But as Bosworth said, the challenges this year’s graduates faced as freshmen helped them grow into seniors ready to take on the future.

“We’ve been tested in ways we could have never imagined,” she said. “Then despite the absence of normalcy, we emerged stronger and more resilient. Our class has developed a half glass full mentality.”

In her salutatory address, Nina Mako recalled how she and her classmates refused to buckle to the pandemic. She praised her class’s ability to find positivity during the tumult of COVID instead of dwelling in negativity.

“Instead of ranting about Zoom, we laughed about the peculiarity of online gym class,” she said. “We noted the excitement on May 10, 2021, when for the first time we ate lunch outside with our peers, a tradition that continues to be a highlight of most of our school days.”

Going forward, Mako encouraged her fellow graduates to continue to embrace positivity and love in their future pursuits, whether it be college, military service or the workforce.

“Just as our class has demonstrated throughout high school, following the path of love will bless our lives with joy, courage, success and passion,” she said. “When we go our separate ways, whether life is going swimmingly or throws us for a loop, I encourage us all to approach our lives with love.”

It took Class Valedictorian Thomas Foley most of his high school career to realize that the little moments often make for the best memories. Often, he said, it was the five minutes between classes that helped him appreciate the culture of inclusion at Nauset, a time when students briefly reconnect to laugh and share stories on their way to class.

“It wasn’t until this year with the end of my high school career close on the horizon that I began to take advantage of these five minute passing times,” he said. “And it was in these minuscule moments that I saw the heart of Nauset: Its community.”

Foley said the bond that he and his classmates have forged together has prepared them individually for what comes next. Even during times of uncertainty, he said, this year’s seniors can look back and know that they all have a place in Nauset history.

“You will likely worry that you don’t belong, that you’re not smart enough to pass a course, skilled enough to hone your trade, brave enough to navigate your new path in life,” he said. “But you would be wrong. It is these times at Nauset, times of bridging divides regardless of background, that will provide you with the tools necessary to take your future into your own hands.”

Principal Patrick Clark opted against a typical speech and instead delivered this year’s graduates a poem, which was met with laughter and applause.

“The class of 2024 sure did things right,” he said. “So whether you’re staying on the Cape or heading out of sight, adventure awaits and I wish you godspeed. You are equipped with the tools that for now you do need.”

The sun set over the football field as seniors walked one by one to receive their diplomas, officially drawing their high school careers to a close. While their future endeavors will take them down a variety of different pathways, School Superintendent Brooke Clenchy implored graduates to navigate their life with kindness.

“Kindness can serve as a bridge that spans differences,” she said. “It heals hurt, it serves to help us lift each other up. And it’s a strength that requires empathy and heart. As Maya Angelou once said, ‘It takes courage to be kind.’”

But as Mako noted, this year’s graduating class has that courage in spades.

“Our class refused to be defined by the things that we’re afraid of,” she said. “It’s thanks to our courage that we formed some of our favorite moments.”

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