Patriot High School Celebrates Class of 2021
17 PHS students, decked out in blue robes, sat in front of a crowded gym of friends and family to receive their diploma Friday, May 28.
The high school welcomed visitors for an in-person ceremony to celebrate the Class of ‘21 that in many ways symbolized the subsiding COVID-19 pandemic. All wore masks, a reminder of the challenging path to commencement for the group of determined students.
“This last year, almost a year and a half now, oh my goodness it has been crazy,” said guest speaker Victor Matthews. The Master Chef, distiller and business owner encouraged seniors to acknowledge their success as students.
“As far as I’m concerned, everyone here in front of me has already proven they can accomplish great things,” Matthews said. “Everybody has done something that’s been very hard to overcome. You've shown this perseverance of what it means to take on a challenge and overcome it. You wouldn’t be here if you did not have the ability to overcome.”
Joe DeSantis, PHS senior, delivered the student address, honoring his classmates and teachers who support them. “You can walk down this hallway and I bet you every single teacher will know you by your name or your nickname. Any one of them.” The gym broke into applause as DeSantis concluded his remarks with a nod to those who share his PHS Bison pride in attending the D49 alternative education campus.
“We will take our memories with us for the rest of our lives, all of the ones we have made here,” he began. “We are Patriot High School graduates. No one thought we would make it, but we did.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, the Class of 2021 turned their tassels as one, symbolizing the completion of this chapter of their academic journey. An enthusiastic crowd greeted the graduates with hugs and smiles.
“I’m so proud. I’m so proud,” said Brandi Gay, whose daughter Taylor crossed the finish line as a PHS graduate. “High school was hard for her, and the pandemic added to it, but she persevered and pushed through. I am super happy.”
Chef Matthews echoed the enthusiasm with encouragement, leaving the Class of 2021 with a final piece of wisdom: “I don’t want to sound too Beyoncé, but you really can do everything and anything you want,” said Matthews, going on to tell the PHS graduates to find their passion and let it drive them into their next chapter in life. “I’m trying to say if you can find that in you, your dream, and you can latch onto it, then you cannot be stopped.”