After their last two years of high school were upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, about 155 Morse High School seniors received their diplomas in front of friends and family Saturday on McMann Field.

In his speech, senior Liam Scalon commented on how strange it felt to see both halves of his class together for the first time in over a year. For the entirety of their senior year, the class was split in half, becoming Cohort A and Cohort B, which attended school in-person for two days each week on alternating days.

Morse High School students walk across McMann Field in Bath to receive their diplomas Saturday. Nina Mahaleris / The Times Record

Senior Elizabeth Brune said graduating feels like “a relief” after their last two years of high school were anything but normal due to the restrictions the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on schools.

“It was difficult, but we made the most of it,” said Brune. “We were still only going to school for two days each week, but it was nice that we all got to graduate here together.”

A Morse High School graduate takes a moment to admire his diploma upon returning to his seat on Saturday. Kathleen O’Brien/ The Times Record.

“If you had told me this class would be graduating here a year ago, I would’ve been shocked,” said class president Wade Bradford. “It’s a great privilege to be on this field today celebrating the hard work, dedication, and most importantly, the perseverance of the Class of 2021.”

Bradford admitted that the class of 2021 is not a “cohesive unit,” and four years ago the students would be “reluctant to put aside our differences for a greater purpose.” However, the in-person graduation on McMann Field is a testament to the class’ growth, both as a group and individuals.

“As friends and family, you have been eyewitnesses of the tenacity of this group,” said Bradford. “In an unpredictable year, layered with decisions left out of our hands, the students you’re observing today have maintained an improbable optimism though extenuating circumstances.”

Last year, the high school graduation was moved to the Wiscasset Municipal Airport, a site that had more space to allow people to keep their distance from one another and watch the ceremony from their cars. Students also remained in their cars, separated from their classmates, until they were called to a makeshift stage to receive their diplomas.

Senior Aroura Rock said she and her classmates “thought we were going to have an airport graduation like last year,” but she said they were thrilled to hear their ceremony would allow everyone to be together on McMann Field  before going their separate ways.

Valedictorian Eleanor Carrolton reminded her classmates to aim for goals in the new stage of life they’re entering, no matter where they’re headed next. Nina Mahaleris / The Times Record

With high school over, Valedictorian Eleanor Carrolton told her classmates this is the time for setting new goals. To make her point, she asked her classmates to imagine her shooting an arrow, representing her hopes and dreams for the future, into the sky. She said each of the graduates did just this on the first day of their freshman year.

“Some things hurt our arrow’s course — an especially difficult math class, a problem with peers, a worldwide pandemic,” said Carrolton. “Luckily, there were even more things that helped lift our arrows up — a particularly helpful teacher, a great new friend, a supportive community.”

While the journey may have been difficult at times, Carrolton congratulated her classmates for reaching their united goal: graduation day.

“As we prepare to leave here today, the Class of 2021 will be shooting yet another arrow,” said Carrolton. “This time, however, we each have our own unique target. No matter where you’re aiming, I hope your aim is high and there are plenty of people to help guide your arrow along the way.”

Morse High School physical education teacher Charlie Bingham received the Dr. Patricia Ames Distinguished Teacher Award at the ceremony Saturday. Nina Mahaleris / The Times Record

Morse High School physical education teacher Charlie Bingham was awarded the Dr. Patricia Ames Distinguished Teacher Award at the ceremony. Upon receiving the award he shared a few pearls of wisdom with the graduates.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned in education and life is how you react to adversity defines who you are,” said Bingham. “Realize you all have your own stories and issues and a lot of you have already gone through so much at such a young age. The best skills to help you get through life are resilience, empathy, and understanding that you are not alone in this struggle. Never forget that you’re a Shipbuilder and you always have a home and people that care about you here at 826 (a nickname for Morse High School).”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.