Albion takes graduation outdoors to celebrate Class of 2021

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 June 2021 at 11:29 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Members of the Class 2021 toss their caps near the conclusion of today’s graduation ceremony at the Spierdowis Football Field.

The ceremony is traditionally held inside the high school gym. Last year there wasn’t an in-person graduation due to Covid-19 restrictions, which limited gatherings to 150 people. Albion instead recorded graduates receiving their diplomas individually and compiled a video.

Albion for 2021 wanted an in-person graduation with the class together. The ceremony was shifted from the gym to outside at the football stadium when the recent guidelines allowed for bigger crowds at outdoor venues.

There were some sprinkles in the beginning of the ceremony, but many people said they preferred the outdoor setting over the gym which can feel stuffy and confined.

Nolberto Martinez Maya, class vice president, is near the front of the processional from the high school to the football stadium. He is followed by Olivia Morrison, class secretary; and Annalise Steier, class treasurer.

Maurice Taylor Jr. gets a hug from Ocie Bennett. Maurice was one of the 140 graduates in the Class of 2021.

The grads walked from the high school to the football field, pass a line of teachers and then through a tunnel of balloons.

Junior girls carry the daisy chain, including Alyson Knack and Emily Harling at left. Junior boys served as escorts and wore purple vests and bowties.

Aubrey Boyer, the class president, said life can often feel like a roller coaster that goes up and then down, and back again. The Class of 2021 has been on a roller coaster “that goes every which way.”

The class has experienced the best and worst of times. The grads had fun at school with homecoming, and grieved the loss of friends and endured a pandemic.

She told her classmates to look to the people seated next to them, and acknowledge they had triumphed by being there.

“We did this,” Boyer said.

The graduates completed their coursework and earned their diplomas, despite the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic.

“Each and every one of you is capable of greatness,” Boyer said. “Seniors, thank you for the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime.”

Kathy Harling, the Board of Education president, speaks to the class and urged them to live with integrity. Their personal character means far more than material possessions, Harling said.

She praised the class for their perseverance, but said they are “much more than the class that endured the pandemic.”

They will go far in life and have happiness if they put others before themselves, and embrace kindness, compassion and honesty.

Ashley Ames, left, is the class valedictorian and Aisha Drisdom is the salutatorian. They gave their speeches together, and urged their classmates to fight injustice and be a force in pushing back against racism, hate and discrimination.

Drisdom said the class showed the ability to learn in new ways and to adapt during the past 15 months of a pandemic.

“Let’s all be the change,” she said. “Self improvement is always possible.”

Mickey Edwards, the district superintendent, commended the class for putting in the work to meet the standards for their diplomas. He said life won’t always be fair. He urged them to continue to be responsible and find the good in others.

Austin Aman walks across the platform to accept his diploma.

Adonis Guzman Ramirez feels victorious after receiving his diploma.

Sierra Kast hugs her father John Kast who is a member of the Board of Education. He presented Sierra with her diploma.

Kyle Sidari smiles after receiving his diploma from his father David Sidari, who is a long-time member of the Board of Edcuation.

The class cheers on and takes a video of Chris Shabazz who did a dance on the way to accepting his diploma. The class sat in the bleachers while friends and family were in chairs on the football field.

Hannah Brewer

Two of the graduates spoke with the Orleans Hub briefly before the ceremony. Hannah Brewer will be majoring in music at Geneseo State College.

She said the pandemic was challenging, especially with remote learning and being limited to two in-person days of school for most of the year until April.

“It was harder this year but it was also more fun,” she said. “It made everything a surprise.”

Damion Lattimer

She is grateful many of the school activities, including the music program, were able to continue this year, although in a different way than before the pandemic.

She said she will miss her classmates when she heads off to college.

“The best thing about Albion is how close-knit we are,” Brewer said.

Damion Lattimer said he is excited to be going to Niagara University to study nursing. He said he will miss his friends and many of the teachers at Albion.

The pandemic forced him and his classmates to accept change and uncertainty.

“For our senior year we had to just adapt and go with the flow,” Lattimer said.

Shakyeliz Luna Colon poses with her diploma.

Saleya Williams smiles for a photo after receiving her high school degree.

Bagpipers play while graduates, including Arianna McGurn and Honesty Little, walk from the football stadium out to the lawn.