WESTFIELD – As Westfield Technical Academy Class of 2020 Salutatorian Deajah Barbour noted during the July 30 graduation, senior year “didn’t go as planned, but we did have some good times.”
Barbour addressed her classmates from the field at Westfield High School as families watched from their vehicles. It was an extremely unusual event due to COVID-19, but the students were happy they were able to walk across a stage at all after their senior activities were cut short when the pandemic hit the area.
Class President Joseph Ruffo said his class persevered.
“All of us have experienced how fast life can change — one day things were normal and the next day it was our last time walking out of WTA in our career as a student,” he said. “We have left our mark in our school. We will always be known as the class that never really had a senior year. We as a class are a part of history. What has happened to us isn’t what we wanted, but on the bright side we will look back and our class will be the ones that stand out from the rest. Our class is remarkable not only by what happened to us but because of all of you. We all took a dreadful situation and turned it around and became an inspiration to every class above and below us. As we receive our diplomas, just know, yes it wasn’t the most traditional way, but it doesn’t mean our community has forgotten.”
The community did not forget and rallied around the Class of 2020 across the city with lawn signs, billboards and more to mark the milestone. Principal Joseph Langone said this class will always be special, for a variety of reasons.
“The Class of 2020 was the first glass I admitted to the academy as freshmen when I became principal in 2016,” Langone said. “Among other things, I will always remember them as the class I went to high school with. They will always hold a very special place in my heart!”
Valedictorian Alice Mosijchuk encouraged her classmates to be present.
“Live in the moment,” she said. “Don’t worry about tomorrow for we do not know what it holds. Take each day as it is, enjoy it and be thankful for every single moment because they will never return.”
Mosijchuk offered sage advice typically given at graduations: Follow your dreams; don’t be afraid of failure and stay true to yourself.
“But honestly, though they may be cliché, and though we may have heard them a thousand times before, they are truths,” she said. “This is a new chapter in our stories and it’s the first step into that journey, so take those few pieces of advice, remember them, and start this journey off on the right foot.”