BRUNSWICK — If Alexis Engel had to watch her graduation from the backseat of a vehicle, she wanted to do it in style. 

After the stress of the past few months — missing out on the last quarter of her senior year, having to make the switch to online learning, finishing her classes and making plans for the next phase of her life, all in the midst of a global pandemic — she thought it only made sense to “be a little fancy,” she said from the back of the limousine her family rented for the occasion. 

Engel and the rest of the Brunswick High School class of 2020 graduated Friday during a special drive-in ceremony at Brunswick Landing that, despite the social distancing, checked all the right boxes. 

The 150 graduates and their families parked outside Hangar 6 at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. In groups of about 10, they took turns walking across the stage to receive their diplomas, protected by special Brunswick High School face masks. They then got back inside their cars, which moved to the back row, allowing the next row to move forward. 

“In the past few weeks, we have joined together to make our voices heard,” salutatorian Darien Gillespie told the crowd. “We did everything in our power, and we succeeded. Today, we get to be together as one community and to graduate together.” 

The class of 2020 was unified through the trials and tribulations of the year, he said. It “stood against it bravely,” leaning on and supporting one another as a community. That’s something they will have no matter where life takes them, Gillespie said. 

In his valedictory or “goodbye” remarks, valedictorian Chapman Hall also commended his fellow graduates for pushing through “remarkable” and “bizarre” circumstances to make it to the end. 

“As a society, we have not experienced a crisis that has caused widespread shutdowns of theaters, concert halls, entire sports seasons, high school traditions like senior prom and many other events, since the second world war,” he said. “In spite of these challenges, the class of 2020 has persevered and made the absolute most of the situation.”

Though the last portion of the year was shaped by hardship, both Gillespie and Hall said their classmates are more than their struggles. 

They are accomplished academics, artists, athletes, club members, leaders, friends, family, and a community. 

They have shown, Hall said, “steadfast character and great resilience,” and that no matter how many times they have been underestimated, they have weathered the storm with a “unity that is unquestioningly impressive.”

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