The Cambridge High School graduation ceremony returned to McFarland Stadium Sunday after a nearly two-decade absence. The ceremony, along with the CHS prom last weekend, also marked the beginning of the return to “normal” following a COVID-19 pandemic year and a half.
Graduation ceremonies moved to the Cambridge High School gymnasium when the “new” building opened in the early 2000s. The air-conditioned gymnasium at the high school made indoor ceremony attractive.
Last year, COVID-19 protocols forced the shut down of school and a drive-in graduation ceremony held in the parking lot.
“It is great to bring back the tradition of graduating at McFarland Stadium,” said Cambridge Principal Jason Bunting. “After last year, I wanted to give the graduating students an opportunity to have some input on how the ceremony would be conducted this year,” Bunting said. “An outside ceremony at McFarland Stadium was the overwhelming response.”
“Due to the restrictions needing to be put in place for social distancing at indoor activities, I am thrilled to not have to limit the number of friends and family that can celebrate the class of 2021 in person,” Bunting added. “I am so proud of the class of 2021. They endured the shutdown of schools last spring, missed their Junior Prom and Senior Homecoming, had to sanitize, wear masks, and participate in remote learning, but persevered and graduated.”
The 149th Commencement Ceremony with 120 graduates included 32 National Honors Society members, 57 students who are planning to attend college, two who already earned an associate degree, 47 who earned academic distinction, 29 who earned honor’s diplomas and five who earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Two of the five students tied for the highest GPA, presented remarks. In her graduation remarks, Jenna Stich addressed the challenges presented in the last two school years.
“I want to congratulate everyone sitting here today,” Stich said. “It has been a battle we fought for 13 long years, the last two years harder than most. We did not get everything the classes before or after us did and will. We did not get a junior prom or a senior homecoming, but we got a senior prom and this graduation, and for that I am thankful.”
Stich also thanked all the parents and grandparents for their support of the class members as well as their teachers and concluded by congratulating her classmates, “to the Class of ’21, don’t stop believing, cherish these memories, and keep working hard.”
Averey Roof also shared perspective on a challenging school year.
“Throughout my high school experience, and especially within the last year, I came to the realization that it is truly impossible to plan for every situation,” Roof shared. “Instead, what I want to tell you today, is that we all must find beauty in the unknown and embrace the unexpected.
“In fact, I feel that many could learn this lesson by simply taking a look at the senior class that is sitting before us today,” Roof continued. “Entering the high school after being fully online this year was like a whole new world. Things were far from normal, yet still, our class persevered, and truly made the best out of a bad situation. The attitude of my peers has set an example for us all, and because of them, I have learned to look back on my high school experience and reflect on the many positive aspects of it rather than the few negatives.”
The other three top-ranked students participated in the ceremony in other ways as Dominic Cork gave the invocation, Andrew LePage helped introduce speakers, and Laney Carpenter led the changing of the tassel.
Seniors Kylie Pyers, Madelynn Oliver, Taylar Slaughter, Averey Roof and Jadyn Carpenter led the singing of the Alma Mater that was accompanied by the CHS band.
Following the recessional, officers from the Cambridge Police Department led a celebratory parade from McFarland Stadium through downtown Cambridge that concluded at the Cambridge City Park.