Sunday Gratitude: The Class of 2021
On Friday, June 4, the Weston High School class of 2021 will graduate on the Town Green. There is no class in recent memory that has had a more bizarre last year of high school–and last quarter of junior year as well. From school from home in March-June 2020, to hybrid learning, half days and remote learning in the fall, to full days altogether starting just a month ago, the flexibility and resilience we have asked of these young people are mind-boggling. I doubt any of us have had a senior year quite as bizarre, but then again, this is not a competition.
My gratitude today is for this class, for the individuals I have been blessed to know, and for those I do not–I know each one of you has a story and it gets more interesting every year. Thank you for sharing your energy, joy and caring with the Town of Weston–while we don’t always act so well-behaved (and frankly, neither does the senior class ;)), we support you in all that you do going forward. Yes, you are hereby kicked out of the nest, but we certainly hope you fly back from time to time.
With apologies to the students I do not know, and who I hope to know in the future, my words of gratitude here are for the ones I know the best (the Owl’s kids are in eighth grade so none of these folks are related to me).
First off is Alton Jenkins, who I met when he was MCing a METCO event with sound issues that brought the music and dance to a screeching halt. Alton, not ruffled at all, made up some jokes to move things along. While I don’t remember the jokes (something about a fish playing basketball?), his energy led the Wes-TEN (Weston’s almost-news show) to “hire” (no pay) him immediately as our https://unsplash.com/@rayhennessy?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Ray Hennessyhttps://unsplash.com/s/photos/owlet?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplashhigh school correspondent. He interviewed a classmate (you’ll meet her too), a gecko, the high school principal, and led the fashion throwdown last month. Alton, thank you for making the pandemic year brighter on the airwaves. We’ll see you back for some guest spots.
To Emma Hsiao, the self-described reptile girl, who we met also on the Wes-TEN, who knows more about snakes and frogs and turtles etc than I will ever know. Beyond that knowledge, she is an amazing artist – dragons are perhaps her superpower – and created a deck of cards called Tale of Scales–some of the funds go to conservation organizations. I look forward to watching what’s next– you can see Emma most recently on a program for Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP). Thank you, Emma, for making the creepy-crawlies fun and for sharing your artistic talents with so many.
To Jackie Liu, who we also met on the Wes-TEN –in our very last studio show in March 2020 before the pandemic shut us down–when we got word of the Meatless Mondays she was trying to establish at the high school cafeteria. Now followed by one million-plus fans on Instagram, Jackie is an amazing artist–her George Floyd portrait is nationally-known and proceeds from sales of prints have been donated to NAACP, and her more recent artwork speaking out against anti-Asian hate crimes is inspiring. To Jackie, thank you for putting your voice and your artistic talents to work for the greater good.
And a word about those who have not (yet?) appeared on the Wes-TEN but I have admired for what they give back to this community–many without wide recognition. Gillon Lim, as part of an Eagle Scout project, led volunteers for WFTA trail improvements and a bench and signage for a trail that links the rail trail with the Town Hall. And additionally, as a National Honor Society student, cleaned up and cared for the trails on the high school campus (along with other NHS students I do not know). Thank you for making the trails better, Gillon.
Nate Icke, the senior class president, brought attention to student mental health. At a School Committee meeting in February 2021, Nate spoke about the isolation and depression among the students in the high school. It takes courage to say that you need help as an adult–imagine how these students feel. Nate formed an Active Minds chapter at the high school for those who need support and help. Thank you for speaking out, Nate, and making things better for those who follow.
These are just a few of the 160ish (sorry, I don’t have final numbers) members of the Class of 2021 who will graduate this Friday. Each one has a story, and I wish I knew them all. You’re a special class: pandemic survivors, community members, change leaders. I am grateful you shared your light with us these years, and know you’ll continue to shine on.