More than 250 seniors in Bassett High School’s Class of 2021 received their diplomas at a May 21 commencement.
“Nelson Mandela once said ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.’ I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the unwavering courage that the Class of 2021 has displayed during this unprecedented school year,” said Tiffany Gravely, principal.
“I am proud of the fortitude that you exhibited in the pursuit of this day. Your steadfast tenacity has brought you to this day of attrition, whether it was having the physical courage to balance school and a full-time job to help your family be financially stable, or having the intellectual courage to apply to an Ivy League college, Yale University to be specific, and end up earning a full scholarship.
“Or having the emotional courage to come to school the day after your house caught fire to get another iPad to continue your virtual learning. Or having the heartful courage to maintain an ‘A’ average after losing someone dear to you. Or the physical courage to continue to strive to pass your classes after being diagnosed with cancer,” she said.
Courage also was apparent in the realm of academics, with students challenging themselves, especially during a global pandemic, Gravely said, and added that 111 students obtained an advanced diploma, 31 students earned an associate degree, 52 students received graduate of distinction, and 61 students obtained the accolade of honor graduate.
Additionally, the class earned nearly $1 million in scholarships, she said.
Moving forward, students “will need to summon the same courage you exhibited this school year to help you navigate challenges. Just remember that fear and courage often go hand and hand. But you, the Class of 2021, have already demonstrated that you have the courage to continue on,” she said.
After the unprecedented events of the past year-and-a-half, Ignacio Ruiz-Sanchez, class president, said it the final walk across the stage to collect diplomas was surreal.
“We have not had the ideal senior year as we have battled this deadly virus, but it is certain that you rose in triumph in defeating all obstacles and making it to this point today. I am beyond proud of this class for their achievements and most importantly, I am excited for the journeys you will set forth on after you officially take your last walk as a graduate,” he said.
“Just four years ago we all faced the gut-wrenching feeling of dread and excitement as we walked through those lobby doors for the first time. Each face here brought a new story to our class just as much as each of you will leave with an everlasting impact on future graduates,” he said.
When embarking on future endeavors, “Live passionately with no regrets and let your success not be final. As you realize your dreams in college, in the military, in the workforce, or any other course in life, let your success be the motivation for other’s achievements just as we celebrate those who came before us,” he said.
Madalyn Ann Oliver said she does not understand why people are so afraid of failure when it is one of the greatest teachers and motivators this world has to offer.
“Failure may seem like the be-all, end-all, but it is not fatal. In truth, failure is a gift. We have all failed before, be it big or small. Failure is natural. It is human, it is unavoidable, and yet we fear it so much,” she said.
“As a society, we’ve been taught that failure is something to be ashamed of. But it’s time that we stopped viewing failure as something dreadful and begin to see the true potential it offers us as people,” Oliver said.
“We have not become the incredible people we are today in spite of our failures. That would suggest that we learned nothing,” she said. “We are incredible people because of our failures and the lessons we learned from them. It is time to stop running from failure and seeing it as a curse and instead seeing it as the gift that it is.
“It is then, and only then, that we can grab life by the horns and not be afraid to follow our dreams,” she said. “Now is the time for dream catching. Now is the beginning of the rest of our lives, and though we cannot be afraid to fail, we will succeed.”