With both ends of their life, as they now know it, marked by bookends of dramatic events — born during the year of 9/11 attacks and now graduating under the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic — Dugway High School seniors gathered somewhere individually on May 21 to watch the broadcast of their virtual graduation ceremony.
But the messages contained in the ceremony held optimism for the future of these new graduates.
“The class of 2020 has shown real resilience during these unprecedented times,” attested DHS principal Jeff Wyatt, as he started the virtual graduation exercises. “The 2020 pandemic has brought many challenges to their daily lives. This class has faced each challenge with grace and grit.”
Tooele County School District Assistant Superintendent Doelene Pitt spoke to the graduates.
“Graduation may not be happening exactly the way you had imagined,” she said. “But it is no less important.”
Pitt advised the soon to be graduates that if they believe in themselves they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
“When things seem impossible is when you need to gear up, buckle down and get going,” Pitt said. “And most important, do not give up. Be persistent in following your goals.”
Colonel Scott Gould, Commander of Dugway Proving Ground, also spoke during the virtual ceremony.
In reference to trials and lost senior moments brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gould told the students; “The challenges you face today will build resilience and determination in your future.”
Gould spoke of hard work and persistence.
“Each and every one of you has been presented a key,” he said. “No, it’s not a key to a brand new car. It’s not a key to a house or an apartment. By graduating you have a key to the future — your future. A key to expand your potential. A key to exceed your goal. And a key to endless possibilities as you move forward. … Accomplishing your goals requires hard work and persistence. Focus on your future goal, combine it with hard work and persistence, and you can accomplish many great things.”
Telia Roper was recognized as the class valedictorian.
Roper said she attended three high schools in three states. She came to Dugway as she started her last year of high school.
“It saddens me that this is the way our graduation has to be, seperated and not having our big moment together … but we fought through everything that came our way this last year and we made it,” she said. “But the tough part is just beginning, after this ceremony today. We will finally be entering the real world.”
School Board president Maresa Manzione accepted the graduating class as presented by Principal Wyatt.
Manzione made a few comments based on musical numbers. One of them was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
“As you get ready to go out in the world,” said Manzione. “I think we have been hit with a really good shot this year and we’ve come out on top. You have hung on and survived and your life will continue to be this way. No matter what, you will survive and come out on top, and never stop believing.”
The complete Dugway High School virtual graduation video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/6jbZ-y-RH5k.