The Millennium High Class of 2021 bid goodbye to classmates and teachers as they gathered one last time for an in-person ceremony on the campus Saturday morning.
Following COVID-19 protocols, seniors and guests wore masks for the ceremony on a sports field on the northwest corner of the campus. Students were given four tickets for family and friends to attend.
The Falcons graduated 125 seniors who saw changes over their four years that included switching campuses during construction, navigating new buildings and the learning through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior Anton Souza told his classmates they had gone on a journey like no other class had.
“Every graduating class has a story but ours, ours is truly historic,” Souza said noting that 3.3 million seniors were set to graduate nationwide.
“3.3 million students who had faced something that no one else has ever faced. We are 125 of those 3.3 million. We survived something that no other graduating class has ever had to,” Souza said. “We have been built on our ability to adapt and persevere and this was our final test.”
He told his classmates they were tested during the pandemic as they spent months apart from their classmates.
“Five weeks of spring break — what we didn’t expect was five weeks would turn into ten. Ten weeks into two or three months and two or three months into eight months. Eight months. Eight months behind a computer screen. Eight months learning online. Eight months of only being able to see our friends and families from the shoulders up,” Souza said. “We survived something that no other class has had to survive and that is our final test.”
Science teacher DyAnne Holmes was also leaving with the seniors, ending a 20-year career at the Tracy Learning Center.
“You accomplished in four years what has taken me 20 to do, so congratulations on that. Your journey has been anything but normal, and I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect back to we are the only class that learned off-campus, and we are the first class to graduate on campus. Job well done,” Homes said. “Many of you had me in class and heard me say 20 years from now, when you’re sitting around with friends please, please, please do not let high school be the high point of your life. You should remember it. It should be great. This shouldn’t be the best part, but it should be an important part. That’s your story. For me, Millennium High and you guys have been the best part. I can truly say high school is the best part of my life.”
Emma Brown, who spent all 13 years of her education at the Tracy Learning Center, thanked staff for the in-person graduation ceremony.
“it really does mean a lot to all of us to get to be together for one last time before going our own separate ways,” Brown said.
She looked back at her 13 years growing up in the Learning Center from kindergarten to high school.
“These past four years have been filled with hard classes, switching campuses, rallies and making even more memories,” Brown said. “Now here we are, the big kids graduating on the same field we played tag on all those years ago.”
Virginia Stewart, executive director at the Tracy Learning Center will also leave the campus having announced her retirement earlier in the year.
“I’ve been sitting through graduation thinking, my God, I’m just like you. For years I’ve made speeches talking about how proud we are of all our Falcons and wishing them well as they fly away, absolutely certain and having great faith that we know how well you’ll succeed. And here I am today, ready to leave with you. We’ll all leave this stage this morning knowing we’re moving on, flying away,” Stewart said. “I wish all of us a great new chapter as we close the curtain on this part of life and move on to the new, exciting challenges ahead.”
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