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Kendall commencement allows grads to celebrate together on lawn at Fire Department

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 June 2020 at 2:30 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KENDALL – Hailee Mitchell (left), the salutatorian, and Katherine Pearson, the class valedictorian, walk past a 2020 sign at the beginning of the Kendall commencement on Friday evening.

The district held the celebration on the Kendall firemen’s grounds, where there is usually the carnival.

The state set a maximum size at 150 people for graduation ceremonies, unless people were in cars. Kendall decided to have an outdoor ceremony and allow families to drive-in and park.

The 51 graduates had seats on chairs that were spaced six feet apart to meet the state’s social distancing guidelines.

Carol D’Agostino, the high school principal, addresses the graduates and the crowd. She is joined on stage by Lisa Levett (left), president of the Board of Education, and Julie Christensen, district superintendent.

The stage was donated for use by Kludt Farms. Christ Farms decorated the stage for the event.

Sarah Delmont, one of the class advisors, hands out masks that she made for all of the seniors. They had the Kendall logo on them.

Isaiah Curtis-Korn heads to the stage for his diploma. He is wearing a mask for Kendall’s Class of 2020.

Kasandra (Cliff) Hopkins, the salutatorian for Kendall’s Class of 2002, delivered the commencement address. She works as administrator of the Northway Surgery & Pain Center near Albany. Her mother is Kendall teacher Renee Cliff.

Hopkins has been an EMT, registered nurse and earned a master’s degree in nursing.

When Hopkins gave her speech in 2002, it was to her classmates whose senior year started with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This year’s senior class was born not long after the 9-11 attacks.

“The world is constantly changing,” she said. “Each generation has a challenge to rise up to.”

The pandemic has been disruptive, but Hopkins said it has also given students more time with their families. Students have needed to adapt to on-line learning and using more technology.

Hopkins quoted from the lyrics of “Be a Light” by Thomas Rhett.

“In a time full of war, be peace

In a world full of hate, be a light

When you do somebody wrong, make it right

Don’t hide in the dark, you were born to shine

In a world full of hate, be a light.”

Hopkins said it isn’t a coincidence Kendall picked the eagle as a mascot.

“We are proud and we are made to soar,” she said.

David Klafehn takes photos of a memorable graduation ceremony at Kendall.

Elizabeth Sutphen stands on the stage before receiving her diploma.

Amber Salonen is happy after receiving her diploma.

Parents and family members of the graduates watched the ceremony from the back of pickup trucks and from lawn chairs.

Brianna Drennan accepts her diploma from Carol D’Agostino, the high school principal. They each kept an arm’s length away.

Hailee Mitchell delivers the salutatorian speech. She praised the small-school atmosphere at Kendall which nurtures students. She commended her classmates for pushing through the past three months, especially with the disappointments of having the senior trip, spring fling and spring sports all cancelled.

Julie Christensen, the district superintendent, praised the community for its support of the students during their school career, and especially since mid-March when the pandemic hit.

She said the Class of 2020 is high-achieving. Among the 51 students, 56 percent were on the honor roll every marking period of high school.

Mason Kuhn is congratulated by Carol D’Agostino. Mason served as one of the class officers.

Katherine Pearson gives the valedictory address. She said a “silver lining” in the pandemic is students graduate knowing they are loved by the community.

She thanked local residents for adopting seniors and giving them gifts during the quarantine. She also said teachers showed their love and commitment to students with a parade by every students’ home and by being creating in their online lessons.

Pearson said her family suffered the loss of her uncle, Wayne Younglove, on June 9. He lived an adventurous life and enjoyed riding snowmobiles, going boating and racing cars. She urged her classmates to follow his example and be brave in trying new things and exploring the country and world.

“I’m graduating with 50 other amazing people who will do wonderful things in life,” Pearson said.

Chloe Tonas decorated her mortarboard on her graduation cap. She and her classmates gathered outside the Kendall fire hall before the ceremony.

Chloe thanked the school administrators for working out a graduation where the class could be together and many family and friends could attend.

These graduates walk by the large 2020 sign created for the ceremony.

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