Biglerville High School (BHS) Class of 2021 took to the Musselman Stadium Friday to commemorate a one of-a-kind graduation.
‘Resilient’ is more than the title of the BHS 2021 yearbook, according to Principal Beth Graham.
“It will forever be tied to this generation,” she said.
Encountering more than the traditional coursework and relationship hurdles, the Class of 2021 faced adversity in the form of a yearlong global pandemic and the unprecedented challenges to follow, including Zoom classes and social distancing from friends, Graham said.
Class Vice-President Isaac Sierra-Soto credited this perseverance in facing adversity with the graduates’ strength to continue to reach their fullest potential.
“It is because we have experienced adversity that the sky’s the limit for our futures…Regardless of the accomplishment big or small, I know we will thrive because of our resilience,” Sierra-Soto said.
Hall of Honor recipient and Latinx Club President Estrella Zavala Polina spoke about arriving to the United States in the third grade without knowing any English to achieving “the highest-level English class offered at our high school,” she said to a stadium of cheers.
Overcoming her shyness to achieve leadership positions, the Latinx Club is now soaring as one of the largest and most successful high school clubs, Polina said.
Polina encouraged her fellow graduates to take similar leaps of faith in pursuit of finding their passion.
“Do something uncomfortable, because it might be the most comfortable decision you make,” she said.
Everyday moments, once taken for granted, will now be ingrained in an entire class as invaluable and heartfelt, thanks to Class Vice-President Sarah Landauer.
Graduates were encouraged by Landauer to use the commencement as a moment to embrace a final “hello” with fellow classmates.
“A hello that you may not have been able to share for the past year. And look forward to the many more greetings that you will share with those you meet in the future,” Landauer said.
Salutatorian Tyler MacBeth implored his fellow classmates to cultivate their own sense of identity, rather than chase validation from expectations.
“It is always better to look within yourself then to look at the next thing because that thing is only possible through yourself,” he said.
Teachers are everything to students, from a column of support to a compass that helps guide to the future, according to Valedictorian Paige Showaker.
Many essential lessons are not necessarily found in traditional classroom settings, such as how to ask for help, how to be yourself, and how to be kind, she said.
“We have not only the ability to shape the world around us, but the people too,” Showaker said.
Showaker credited the mentorships cultivated through the variety of teachers that make up Upper Adams School District as, “ultimately shaping who I am four years later,” she said.
Many speeches were also given in Spanish, in recognition of the community’s diverse population.
A portion of the senior class gift was presented to each of the school departments, as well as toward establishing a scholarship in honor of classmate Ethan Slaybaugh, who died after a vehicle incident in May.
Graduation symbolizes more than just finishing coursework and passing classes, it means applying what has been learned to the next stage of the journey. For the Class of 2021, it means looking to what the future will hold, and facing it with continued resiliency and dedication.
A change from familiarity is not something to be afraid of, it is a part of life.
“This may be the end of high school, but it is the beginning of so much more,” Landauer said.
A.L. Grabenstein, reporter, is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.