The fact that the Mt. Hope High School Class of 2023 graduated amidst the looming threat of a thunderstorm could not have been more appropriate.
The fact that the Mt. Hope High School Class of 2023 graduated amidst the looming threat of a thunderstorm could not have been more appropriate for a class that, at one time, seemed to have a cloud of negativity held over its head.
Yes, unbelievably the Class of 2023 is the infamous class that, as eighth graders, helped cause the Great ‘Sick-Out’ of 2019, when KMS teachers staged a massive protest against unruly behavior occurring on a seemingly daily basis in their classrooms and hallways. Time moves fast in a post-pandemic world.
And although the point of this piece is not to dwell on the past, we do find it encouraging to see how a class — a vast majority of which had nothing to do with the kind of behavior that caused statewide news four years ago — can take such a blemish in stride, only to get swept up into the chaos of something as distracting, developmentally and existentially disruptive as a pandemic, and yet keep marching forward towards high levels of success.
As Valedictorian Benjamin Rozea said in his address, despite being unwilling test subjects for remote learning and mandatory mask wearing — and being caught in the middle of all of the drama their parents’ generation engaged in because of those developments — the Class of 2023 nevertheless contained record setters in academics, athletics, and extracurriculars. Their class endured a revolving door of superintendents, persistent school committee clashes (one of which ended in the controversial departure of the high school’s most beloved principal), and facilities not suited for modern learning that actively aged around them.
Thankfully, the steadying presence brought by Superintendent Ana Riley and a new, more mutually respectful and student-focused amalgamation of the School Committee has resulted in positive gains and a brighter outlook. The district is currently undergoing the process of trying to win support from voters to secure a once-in-a-generation bond to fix up the most glaring issues with their school infrastructure (even possibly build a brand-new 21st-century high school).
And if you’re into forced symbolism, it seemed even more fitting that the dark skies that threatened to wash away the festivities of Friday’s graduation eventually parted enough for a bright rainbow to shine overhead of the Class of 2023, all donning purple gowns in a meaningful defiance of tradition in favor of class unity.
For a class that could have easily crumbled into obscurity under the combined weight of so many uncontrollable factors working against them, they earned their rightful place in Bristol-Warren history.