By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
Principal Sean Kane said that his first glimpse of the spirit of the Class of 2021 came when they were taking their placement exams four years ago.
Kane was in his office when he heard a commotion nearby. When he came outside, he saw a group of students sliding down the rails of the main hall.
“What you might not know, however, is that there was a fair amount of discussion among the adults about whether you would be a spirited class or a troublesome class,” said Kane to the laughter of family and friends in the audience. “Now, of course we know, quoting Mr. Svendsen (the assistant principal), that you are not a good class—you are a great class.”
The ceremony was held on Friday, June 4. The week’s inclement weather forced a relocation to the school’s auditorium, and the seats were packed with faculty, family, and of course, the Class of 2021. Kane spoke of the many achievements of the class, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that such milestones often come about in the face of setbacks, failures, hardships, and doubts.
“Happiness also comes from having the courage to speak on behalf of others in so many large and small ways, whether those ways be speaking out against injustice or merely comforting a friend in the right way,” said Kane.
The speakers took the time to recognize Bishop Feehan student AJ Quetta, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury sustained on Jan. 26 while playing for the Bishop Feehan High School varsity hockey team. Quetta was in attendance for the ceremony, and graduated with his classmates. Bishop Feehan President Timothy Sullivan said that Quetta has faced an unbelievable challenge, with a spirit that is an inspiration to everyone.
“AJ, we’re very happy you can join us tonight,” said Sullivan.
Valedictorian Ellia Sweeney said that thought she hadn’t had the privilege to know AJ as well as his teammates, everyone at Bishop Feehan was blessed that he could be here for the commencement.
“You personify bravery, resilience, and determination,” said Sweeney. “Please know that so many of us here, and the broader community and beyond, have become your friends in spirit.”
In her speech, Sweeney said that the first year at Bishop Feehan was a rocky one, though in time she adapted and learned a great deal. From animals to the origins of words, there was much to learn. Among those was the word Kairos, ancient Greek for a moment that requires a speaker. She said that over the years, these many Kairos have been the building blocks of who the Class of 2021 is.
“These moments that require a speaker, and you’ve chosen to step up and become that speaker,” she said to her classmates.
Sweeney said that it’s important to recognize that the greatest speakers aren’t necessarily shouting from podiums, but taking on how the challenge of doing work behind the scenes—having difficult conversations, standing up against injustice, and striving to do good. She highlighted many of the Class of 2021’s unsung heroes and the different ways they have made a difference, from spreading good cheer to becoming leaders in a number of ways. She encouraged them to stand up for others and connect with people.
“I encourage all of us to go and be like them,” she said. “Connect with those people speaking out for their Kairos, who get you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to be your best self, who push you to be better.”