By Maria Elena Little Endara, Banner correspondent

BENNINGTON — On Friday evening, 203 members of the Mount Anthony Union Excessive Faculty class of 2020 will obtain their diplomas in a drive-through ceremony on the college. Just like the ceremony itself, the scholars’ final months in class have been profoundly modified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On these pages, 5 MAU graduating seniors share their tales on adapting to a brand new means of commencement, closing a chapter on their childhoods, discovering causes for hope, and stepping right into a world of unknowns. Listed here are their experiences.

Victoria Ford

“Graduating implies that I succeeded in these final 4 years of my life.”

Whereas shedding the normal commencement ceremony was troublesome for everybody, senior Victoria Ford understands.

“We did not actually know the way it was going to have an effect on us. I believe it was simply higher to maintain it secure for everybody,” Ford mentioned.

Nevertheless it wasn’t simply commencement that Ford misplaced. Her spring season for outside observe was cancelled together with promenade in Might.

“I used to be simply actually wanting ahead to sitting subsequent to my associates, and all of us lining up, strolling via and having my household see me. That’s what I used to be most excited for, strolling throughout the stage and have the ability to shake my lecturers’ fingers and get my diploma. Graduating implies that I succeeded in these final 4 years of my life and that I am shifting onto the subsequent chapter and beginning one thing new and thrilling,” mentioned Ford.

Nonetheless, Ford and her household will not be going to let the pandemic maintain them from celebrating her achievement. Whereas her older brother who lives in California can’t attend, her mother and father and brother are planning to assist her on the drive-through commencement.

“We’re all actually unhappy that my complete household cannot come, however they’re glad that they will see me graduate. We wished to have a very large commencement social gathering; my complete household was going to come back,” Ford mentioned.

“Everybody on my dad’s facet was going to come back, my mother’s mother and her husband, all people from my mother’s household. We had been speculated to fly out to San Diego in April to fulfill my niece in order that was actually onerous for us as a result of we have been wanting to fulfill her so dangerous.”

Ford plans on attending Saint Rose within the fall majoring in social work. As a result of she wasn’t capable of go to the colleges she was accepted to, she was compelled to slender her choices down by distance from house and the standard of their packages.

“I all the time knew deep down that I wished to go to Saint Rose, however I used to be actually uncertain,” she mentioned. “I believe at some point I simply determined that is the place I wish to go. They gave me probably the most info and helped me so much via this course of and checked in on me.”

Like most graduating seniors, she worries about lacking out throughout her first yr of school.

“I am fearful I will not have the ability to go mingle with individuals and make new associates and do all of the enjoyable stuff you’re speculated to do your first yr of school. I am fearful I will not have the ability to have the identical expertise that I’d if this wasn’t taking place proper now,” Ford mentioned.

Nonetheless, the pandemic gave Ford a chance to mirror on her highschool expertise and to not take issues as a right.

“You by no means know what is going on to occur. You must actually cherish the recollections you’ve and your time with your pals as a result of I have never been capable of see my associates for a very very long time,” she mentioned.

Adam Frost

“I believe contemplating the disadvantages confronted, we made it work.”

Within the fall, Adam Frost might be attending Trinity School in Hartford, the place he’ll proceed his wrestling profession. He utilized early resolution, giving him the chance to get to know his wrestling workforce earlier than the pandemic hit — which he’s very grateful for.

“I utilized in January. I do know a variety of my associates needed to apply to high schools with out even seeing them,” he mentioned. Frost spent many summers at Trinity, attending clinics and watching their soccer video games. “I received to know and expertise the school earlier than I utilized there which is absolutely useful. I used to be capable of make my resolution earlier than I used to be actually restricted,” he mentioned.

For Frost, this yr has been one in all accomplishments and recollections. The star wrestler received the Educational All-American, a recognition program for probably the most excellent student-athletes and plans to proceed wrestling into school.

Frost started wrestling in fifth grade and says he grew up with the Mount Anthony program.

“Only in the near past this yr I received state, which was unimaginable. The state competitors was house this yr, so I received to win state and achieve every thing I wished this yr with my family and friends watching,” mentioned Frost.

He additionally took half in different extracurricular actions such because the work together group and scholar senate. His favourite reminiscence of his senior yr, he mentioned, was “hanging out with Mr. Moses. He was my AP chemistry instructor and he all the time knew find out how to make class thrilling.”

Frost plans on majoring in psychology with hopes of at some point getting his Ph.D and turning into a therapist or a baby psychologist.

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However with all the achievements of his senior yr have additionally come challenges. Staying inside was particularly troublesome for Frost whose pleasant demeanor thrives in social conditions.

“I am form of a social particular person and being restricted from seeing my associates was actually onerous for me. I can not go to my favourite shops and eating places with out carrying a masks. We had been really going to go on a cruise [to Bermuda] and that simply received cancelled a pair weeks in the past. We deliberate {that a} yr in the past, we had been so excited. Hopefully we’ll get to try this once more,” he mentioned.

Whereas Trinity School has thus far introduced that they’re planning to return to campus within the fall, Frost worries about what school life will seem like for him throughout the pandemic.

“Once I’m going into a faculty my freshman yr I wish to meet as many individuals as potential. I wish to meet as many associates as I can and make connections with lecturers whereas I can. Being restricted from that’s going to be very onerous to come back again from particularly my first yr of school. I really feel like that is a vital yr and I am hoping to expertise that to its fullest,” Frost mentioned.

Nonetheless, he has stored optimistic all through the pandemic with the drive to make the very best out of every thing. Frost mentioned he has taken benefit of the additional time to check for courses, go to the health club and follow golf, a sport he has all the time wished to take up.

To him, graduating is about reflecting on 4 years of onerous work with household and associates. Whereas he’s slightly upset that commencement might be totally different, he’s excited to utilize the chance.

“I do know it’s extremely troublesome with the pandemic. I do know what we’re doing now, the mother and father actually received collectively, and placed on a very good system with the parade and the quarantine-based commencement. I believe contemplating the disadvantages confronted, we made it work. It is positively higher than nothing in any respect. It will nonetheless be good to see my associates and expertise commencement the way in which I am speculated to now,” he mentioned.

Owen Maroney

“No matter you are doing, be glad about it and luxuriate in it.”

As a multi-instrumentalist and member of the native band The Throwbacks, Owen Maroney performed a big function within the music division at Mount Anthony Excessive Faculty. He was additionally concerned within the college band, choir, and jazz band.

Whereas Maroney agrees with the college’s resolution to cancel in-person commencement, he’s unhappy about not having the ability to take part in occasions he had been wanting ahead to for some time.

“A lot of the issues that you just look ahead to like promenade on the finish of the yr and the common commencement ceremony form of received ripped away from us on the finish of the yr. It is actually made me understand that you just simply received to be just about grateful for every thing you are doing. This could possibly be your final time doing it,” he mentioned. “We had been simply going into the pinnacle of rehearsals and the subsequent day our present was canceled. No matter you are doing, be glad about it and luxuriate in it.”

The Throwbacks shaped Maroney’s freshman yr of highschool when he received along with some associates that each one loved enjoying and singing cowl songs and wished to share the expertise with different individuals. They’ve performed gigs at native occasions round city and in school. Whereas Maroney primarily performs drums and bass, he typically performs harmonica and sings within the band as properly.

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For Maroney, Mount Anthony Excessive Faculty’s British Invasion Live performance was the spotlight of his senior yr. The occasion is a homage to the cultural phenomenon the British Invasion, when British rock and pop bands grew to become more and more fashionable within the US throughout the mid-1960s. In the course of the occasion, native bands mess around two to a few songs and are solely allowed to cowl British bands from the time interval.

Maroney grew to become a musician at a younger age, enjoying trumpet in his fourth-grade band. He later converted to tuba in sixth grade and now performs tuba, bass, drums, harmonica, and is beginning to study electrical guitar.

He might be attending Berkshire Neighborhood School within the fall for a 2-year bodily remedy assistant program.

“Since round eighth grade I knew I wished to be within the medical discipline,” Maroney mentioned. “I began my junior yr over on the CDC (Profession Improvement Heart) I began taking a medical professions class as properly.”

Since Maroney’s program may be very hands-on, he worries that he won’t be able to get the total expertise if his courses are on-line.

“They mentioned that they are planning that the majority packages are going to be on-line, however the PTA program, they will attempt to have that on campus. I am actually hoping that I can go in and have a hands-on expertise. I will be commuting to school. So, residing in a dorm and all that, I would not be actually getting that have a part of it,” mentioned Maroney.

Elizabeth Buttle

“There is no motive to postpone issues. If you are going to say I am going to try this subsequent week circumstances would possibly change, and chances are you’ll not have the ability to do it subsequent week so get it finished as quickly as you’ll be able to.”

At no cost-spirited gymnast and traveler Elizabeth Buttle, the street to success this yr was a troublesome one, with the pandemic making her change her method to getting on a university workforce.

“Recruiting-wise with gymnastics, I wanted to have a superb season. Our season would’ve led to April with regionals after which nationals, however COVID minimize that quick. I did not have these meets the place I might present [colleges] extra of what I might contribute to their workforce,” she mentioned.

“I used to be calling coaches and I used to be letting them know what was taking place and making an attempt to determine how I’d attempt to get a spot on their workforce. My health club additionally closed shortly after my meet was cancelled so I have never finished gymnastics for 2 and a half months, which is a very long time for a gymnast. School coaches are on the lookout for expertise and the way you are acting at meets, and with out that I actually needed to change my method,” Buttle mentioned.

Buttle has large plans for her future. She hopes to go to veterinary college and get a doctorate diploma in veterinary medication after touring the world.

“I need to have the ability to journey the world slightly bit as a result of I favored it a lot earlier. Perhaps get some enjoyable internship around the globe,” she mentioned.

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Indonesia and Australia are subsequent on the listing of nations Buttle hopes to journey to quickly, as she is an avid scuba diver who hopes to at some point scuba dive within the Nice Barrier Reef.

Her love for touring got here from childhood journeys to Martinique, Curacao and Canada. On her tip to Martinique, she found a need to study a international language. This led her to take Spanish for 3 years in highschool.

“Regardless that it is a French-speaking island, I simply actually noticed how helpful a unique language can be and the tradition behind it. It actually opened my eyes to the world and that is once I was like `I wish to study a language and I wish to turn into fluent in a single so I can embrace the tradition of all these individuals’.”

The faculty gymnast might be majoring in biochemistry with pre-vet focus and a minor in Spanish at Central Michigan College. Being a university gymnast has additionally been a long-time dream of hers, and within the fall she might be competing as a Division One athlete.

Buttle spent a variety of time on the telephone with the gymnastics coach of Central Michigan College and finally she was given a spot on the roster.

Whereas she says that the parallel bars will not be her finest performing occasion, she loves it probably the most as a result of she says, “you’ll be able to actually really feel such as you’re flying, and once you do one thing good on bars it feels actually good.”

For now, Central Michigan College is planning to return to campus within the fall and has already made modifications to their college calendar to begin the autumn semester at an earlier date. Whereas most athletes often go to summer time college earlier than freshman orientation to fulfill and practice with their groups, it is going to now be postponed as a result of pandemic.

Based on Buttle, CMU has modified its dorm insurance policies, limiting the variety of individuals per dorm and eating corridor choices. Buttle joked she is contemplating bringing a nutribullet and crockpot to maintain in her dorm.

Whatever the modifications made and a non-traditional school expertise, Buttle is worked up to coach along with her workforce within the fall.

“There is no motive to postpone issues. If you are going to say I am going to try this subsequent week circumstances would possibly change and chances are you’ll not have the ability to do it subsequent week so get it finished as quickly as you’ll be able to,” she mentioned.

Alexander Thompson

“It is about making do with what we now have however being optimistic about it as a substitute of begging for extra.”

“I am very fortunate,” is what senior Alexander Thompson mentioned when he was requested how COVID-19 impacted his commencement and his life.

Whereas some college students are upset concerning the modifications in commencement, Thompson believes that cancelling the in-person commencement was the fitting transfer.

“On the time, a variety of the information was nonetheless form of unknown. It was till just lately that we had the pop-up testing websites. I felt like in-person commencement would simply enable individuals from out of state to come back with out organizers actually realizing. The vectors for unfold had been too excessive with an in-person commencement. Regardless that our case numbers are low now, there would possibly’ve been on the time a variety of asymptomatic instances that we weren’t conscious of,” Thompson mentioned.

At MAU, Thompson was concerned within the wonderful arts, and just lately performed the function of Mr. Banks within the musical “Mary Poppins.” Thompson was additionally concerned in Nationwide Honors Society, Progressives of MAU, Mannequin UN and Drama Membership.

“The solid had a household connection, so it was actually form of a private present,” Thompson mentioned about his function within the musical.

After commencement, Thompson plans on attending Macalester School in St. Paul, Minn., and hopes to check political science, Latin American research and Spanish. He hopes to take part in a Fulbright Scholarship and at some point obtain his grasp’s. Whereas he does not know precisely what he desires to do as a future profession, he has entertained concepts of educating in addition to a profession in politics.

Though he worries about his mom, who works at an assisted residing facility in New York, he feels fortunate that his mother and father had been each capable of proceed working all through the pandemic.

“I used to be fortunate to have mother and father who had been nonetheless in work so financially my school resolution did not change a lot,” mentioned Thompson.

Whereas Thompson questioned how far he wished to maneuver for faculty, he finally dedicated to Macalester regardless of the space due to its tutorial status and monetary support bundle.

The pandemic took an emotional toll on the senior. Watching the information was saddening and horrifying.

“I believe the toughest half was turning on the information and watching issues go bitter. Particularly seeing it begin or a minimum of get seen in January in Wuhan after which as a member of the UN membership you assume, `Oh it is the WHO, they will deal with this.’ And after they do not, it spreads to Italy and Spain and its knocking at your door. With information like CNN, we quickly noticed the case rely go up and there have been all these studies of individuals being hospitalized.

“Watching it occur is frightening. I personally do not know anybody that had it, however that is the privilege of residing in Vermont, we’re already fairly remoted as is. Undoubtedly probably the most worrying half was simply watching unfold and get uncontrolled, and the totally different our bodies that had been set as much as stop one thing like this failing on the and the lack of human life,” Thompson mentioned.

Nonetheless, Thompson has managed to keep up a optimistic angle.

“I believe I am very optimistic about every thing as a result of I perceive with COVID-19 there have been a variety of deaths. We as an entire state have been actually fortunate to not have been hit as onerous as another locations have been. Recognizing that and recognizing that we’re nonetheless getting methods to have a good time is necessary. It is about making do with what we now have, however being optimistic about it, as a substitute of begging for extra,” he mentioned.

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