Resilient class graduates from Barrington High School

In a first-time-ever event, commencement held online


Victory Field was empty on Sunday afternoon.

On the day that traditionally hosts the Barrington High School graduation ceremony, members of the Class of 2020 instead shared their commencement celebration online. The video presentation was streamed at 2 p.m., and by the end of the day on Sunday, hundreds of people had watched the virtual event.

The online broadcast was not how many of the high school seniors had pictured their graduation day. But as senior class president Sudiksha Mallick said in her speech, "what in life is ever expected?"

"You never know what life is going to bring you, what obstacles you might have to face or what opportunities will be presented to you," she said, "but always tackle everything head-on. We the class of 2020 are fighters."

This year's class has faced a series of unique challenges, which started on March 13 when state officials sent students home for an early spring vacation. The school buildings stayed closed and students spent the remaining months with distance learning. Officials then canceled the proms and spring sports.

But Sudiksha said this year's class will overcome those difficulties and disappointments.

"Our legacy is not and will not be the fact that COVID-19 stopped our graduations and proms, but instead our legacy will be how we are able to act upon this and use our voices, our knowledge, and our passions to recover from this," Sudiksha said.

Kelly Kaon shared her essay with fellow graduates. The former student representative to the Barrington School Committee remembered that last day when her entire class was all under the same roof.

"What we would give to go back to March 13th," she said. "To walk the halls for the last time. To thank our teachers for the last four years. To take pictures with our friends that we would treasure forever."

She said the future was uncertain for her and her classmates, but she was confident that they would overcome future challenges.

"We are forging a new path," Kelly said. "Our graduating class begins the new decade, and the resilience that we have demonstrated in the face of doubt will be remembered for generations to come."

Kelly also recounted some of the fun memories she and her classmates shared through their high school years.

"Our brave peers signed up for Battle of the Classes, and we cheered them on through the plank contest, hungry hungry hippos, the potato dance," she said. "Were we robbed of our points? We may never know. However, there was something special about our class, and everyone knew it."

Kelly recalled walking with her friends in the Yoga Pants Parade back in 2016, and participating in the gun violence walk-out in 2018.

She concluded by saying that the Class of 2020 has displayed resilience and perseverance through the years, strength and empathy, and compassion and kindness.

Sarah Quinlan spoke about the things that she and her classmates were unable to experience this year — the Battle of the Classes, senior prank day, eating outside with their friends at lunch, senior prom, after-prom, and much more.

"But instead of thinking about what we missed, let us reflect on the amazing experiences that we have shared together throughout these past years," she said.

"… let us remember the good days, the days where you see Ben Conway's smiling face in the hallways, Emma Singer's endless school spirit, Kelly Kaon's incredible cupcakes, CJ's LifeSmarts weekly questions…" she said. "Each and every one of you is incredible. You all possess some sort of extraordinary and unique quality that defines you. You all have a great future ahead of you, no matter what path you choose to take in life."

Barrington High School Principal Joe Hurley also praised members of the graduating class. He said this year's seniors have demonstrated "a resiliency and determination that has never before been witnessed by any graduating class, and in all likeness, never will again.

"It is the willpower and sense of purpose of this class that will enable each and every member of the Class of 2020 to become successful as you move beyond the walls of Barrington High School," Mr. Hurley said.

Musical opening

The video — it is accessible through the district's website — opens with a series of student musical performances. Soloists, duets and bands take turns sharing a variety of songs, which included the Beatles' "In My Life," and Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." Five graduates wearing their graduation gowns set up their instruments in one of the student's driveways and played a compilation of Jazz pieces.

Thanks for the help

Mr. Hurley took a few moments to thank the efforts of the people who helped with the BHS graduation. He said administrative assistants Mrs. Azulay, Mrs. Perry and Mrs. Kellner went above and beyond to ensure that the graduation plan came together. He also thanked the custodial and maintenance team for setting up and breaking down the stage during the filming process. And he thanked Mr. West and his Sunrise team of Jack Culton, Owen Crain and Xan Maddock-Mark for their help with filming and editing.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.