WALLINGFORD — A sea of maroon and white robes, dotted with gold tassels and white carnations, took over Sheehan High School’s football field Friday evening as 192 students graduated.
Among them was Jason Villano, senior class president. He reflected on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck during the spring of their junior year.
“With so much taken from us in the year that was supposed to be ours,” he said, “the one thing that can never be taken away is being able to wear that beloved maroon and gold with pride, no matter where life takes us.”
Friday’s ceremony was held on the John J. Riccitelli football field and track. Supporters arrived with bunches of balloons, bouquets of flowers and at least two with large cut-outs of faces of graduates to wave on sticks.
As the procession of graduates entered 10 minutes before 6 p.m., the crowd shouted and cheered, calling to their friends and family as they took their seats on the field, quieting only for the National Anthem, sung by graduating senior Emma Connors.
Andrew Carey, president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter, acted as master of ceremonies.
Allison Villano, one of 33 varsity scholars in the class of 2021, talked about the “unforgettable moments.”
“We were the class that got quarantined, that had to fight through nearly a year of online school, showing that although we are just a bunch of annoying teenagers, we have the determination to persevere through a global pandemic,” Villano said.
At their 10-year high school reunion, she said they will be “reminiscing over an 88 degree powder puff [game] and a freezing prom.”
“We will remember the times where we fell asleep on Zoom classes and laugh about all the gym workouts that we had to do in front of our families,” she said. “I think we can all agree that those moments are not something we are going to miss, as we look towards the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Jack McDonnell, another varsity scholar, also wondered what he and his classmates will recall when they look back on their high school experience.
“We will all probably sit back someday and contemplate what wasn’t, what should have been, and some could argue what would have been,” he said. “What was is enough to suffice for us.”
A lesson to take from the last 15 months is that every single moment is precious, he said.
“I realized that I took so many moments for granted,” he said, “that I think we all did, and it took losing out on those opportunities to really appreciate how special they were … Life is filled with uncertainties, and the moments and experiences that we perceive as normal can be taken from us” — he snapped his fingers — “like that.”Mayor’s song
Continuing his tradition of singing from the podium, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. congratulated the class of 2021 by singing “Someone To You” by Banners, changing the lyrics to fit the graduation ceremony.
“Titan nation poised to celebrate, you worked hard to graduate, you earned all the accolades,” he sang. “We believe that you could lead the way.”