GREAT BARRINGTON — The 110 graduates of Monument Mountain Regional High School's Class of 2020 faced an unprecedented hurdle in their final months of high school, but they finally made it to graduation.
The seniors from Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge celebrated their accomplishments Sunday with a full schedule of commencement activities. A virtual ceremony at 10 a.m. was followed by a drive-thru diploma distribution at noon, topped off with a parade around the school's three district towns at 1:30.
Over the course of a week, graduates made appointments three or four at a time to visit the school and receive a "diploma" in a prerecorded video. The footage was then edited together with speeches by representatives of the senior class and faculty to produce a roughly 90-minute livestream for graduates and their families to enjoy.
The real diplomas were handed out at noon, though, tucked in white bags with some letters written by members of the faculty. Cars drove single-file through the drop-off lane in front of the school, where administrators greeted seniors and handed them their bag. Graduates then convened in the lower parking lot to socialize from a safe distance before setting out on the parade route.
Speakers during the virtual ceremony emphasized the challenge of completing high school — especially with such a strange end to their high school experience — but noted the strength graduates received from enduring those struggles.
"It's the tasks that are hard, the ones that make you stressed and tired, that offer the most in the end," said salutatorian Adam Boscarino.
"You are making history. You are a class that, yes, has lost out on the last part of the senior year, but so much more has come into your being," science teacher Scott Annand told graduates.
While the seniors did not have a traditional commencement, graduate Lucas Kiesel said he appreciated the community's effort to honor seniors.
"I feel like we're getting a lot more support from the community than normal seniors would, so I feel a little bad for next year's seniors," he said with a laugh.
In addition to the official activities, graduates said they had made other plans to celebrate their special day. Some planned to gather with friends for a socially distanced barbecue while others hoped to go swimming or share a nice meal with family — perhaps not the way they expected to conclude their high school career, but gratifying nonetheless.
"It feels really good," said graduate Daniella Santamaria. "It's special in its own way."
Jack Lyons can be reached at email@example.com or at (802)-734-4408. Follow him on Twitter at @JackLyonsND.