Spectators at Marysville High School’s War Memorial Stadium shielded their faces from the sun with programs and umbrellas as they awaited the arrival of the class of 2021 on Friday.
The graduates lined up behind the east and west levees, climbed the stairs behind the stadium and proceeded down the stairs and walked past family and friends toward the scoreboard and took their seats on the grass.
This year’s valedictorian Zoe Rosales is going to Georgetown University this fall but starts an internship with Bank of America’s student leadership program on Monday.
“You look around this room and you see these people all continued to do their work in spite of tremendously difficult circumstances that could have hindered their progress ... I’m immensely proud of them,” Rosales said.
Salutatorian Kelly Lin said reaching graduation day was “surreal,” especially considering the last year-plus. She is going to UC Davis for undergrad and then going to nursing school.
“It kind of feels more rewarding because we had to work harder to get to this point and I’m just proud of everyone,” Lin said. “I’m definitely going to miss our family bond. I feel like we’re all really, really close and I think that’s what makes us unique as a class.
Salutatorian Daniel Yu is going to the University of Southern California to study computer science.
“I’m just glad to be able to have this graduation ceremony in person and it feels like everything’s back to normal again,” Yu said.
He said he’s going to miss his teachers.
“They taught me everything I know and they always brightened my day when I was feeling down,” Yu said. “They’re always there to support me and I’m going to miss them.”
Assistant Principal Amy Eggleston said 183 students had been recommended for graduation.
Each graduate was given six tickets and families sat together in socially-distanced pods during the ceremony.
“This particular class has endured many challenges throughout their high school career,” Principal Shevaun Mathews said in an email. “From fire evacuations, smoke and rolling power shut offs and then COVID, these kids have persevered. They are an exceptionally kind and respectful group of students who have shown resilience and perseverance during adverse times.”
Mathews spent time as principal at Anne L. McKenney Intermediate School when many of the class of 2021 were in sixth grade. Mathews moved to MHS when this year’s class were freshmen.
“My hope for this class is that they have opportunities to go out and find their place in the world after COVID,” Mathews said. “I hope that restrictions open up so they can go to college and have that college experience, that they can go into trade schools, the military, community colleges or the work force and there are opportunities to succeed with hard work.”
Math teacher and activities director Ryan Wallace said the class of 2021 had school closed during its junior year, and did not have a Sadie Hawkins Dance, spring athletics or prom. This year, they did remote learning until March, and missed out on football games, homecoming and other events.
“They have ‘fought the good fight’ by not giving up and keeping focused on the end result,” Wallace said in an email. “Ever since they have returned in the hybrid learning model, they have truly shown what their class is all about ... vision, grit and resilience.”
English teacher, senior class advisor and MHS alumna Mandy Escheman said she remembers watching the class of 2021 come in as “scared’ ninth graders and has seen them grow into mature young adults.
“I hope these past four years taught them that they are far more capable then they believe themselves to be,” Escheman said in an email. “I hope they never stop questioning what happens in this world and they stay true to who they are, and never feel the need to change because the world says they should.”