NORTH EASTHAM – “What this community has meant to me these weeks, these months; let’s just say none of us is alone anymore.”
That quote from The Riddler didn’t initially strike Katie Sanborn as an appropriate senior class quote. But the Nauset High class valedictorian eventually came around to it.
“I’m not alone here as I stand before you,” she told friends, family, faculty and her fellow classmates during Saturday’s commencement ceremony for the Nauset Regional High School Class of 2022.
This year’s ceremony, held under sun and blue skies on the high school football field, gave graduating seniors pause for thought, not just about what lies ahead, but what they’ll take with them from their years at Nauset. While this year’s seniors will each follow their own paths through life, Sanborn took time to remember the relationships that have been built amongst her classmates over the years.
Sophia McManus, for instance, spent hours baking a cake in the shape of a saxophone for Sanborn’s birthday, and also helped her “crash” the confirmation of Senior Class President Will Mulholland. Sanborn also recalled how Mulholland’s friendship and support helped her through her tough “‘A’ Day” schedule full of AP classes.
Sanborn also surveyed her fellow seniors about who has helped them through their high school years, and shared some of their responses. Tatiana Enos was one student’s “most consistent support system in the school.” Another student thanked Melissa Richard for being a “warm force” who “always came in clutch with a hug.” Kevin Campbell thanked Lucas Allen “for being by [his] side through ups and downs since sixth grade.”
“I guess what I’m saying is although they’re all crazy, myself included, they have helped me keep my sanity in the midst of all the stresses that life throws at me,” Sanborn said of her classmates. “I consider them all my very good friends.”
Mulholland took a moment to remember a classmate who looms large in the memory of this year’s senior class. He encouraged his fellow seniors to live in the now and embrace the present, something he said Anders Grimm “mastered the art of.”
“It was his laid back self that brought all the comfort and joy to me,” Mulholland said of Grimm, for whom seniors wore a pin in remembrance.
Saturday’s ceremony served as a farewell not only for this year’s senior class, but also for Chris Ellsasser, who presided over his final commencement ceremony as the high school’s principal. Four years ago, he said, he encouraged this year’s seniors to “turn left” out of the high school’s Eastham campus toward Coast Guard Beach, once they became old enough to drive. He doubled down on that recommendation Saturday.
“See the whitecaps, the dune-edged coastline shifting with the changing tides, and consider how much of who you are is where you call home,” he said.
Ellsasser encouraged seniors not to lose sight of the present as they reflect on their past and look forward to the future.
“If there is a scenic route, please take it. If there is a positive point of view, please assume it. And always, please always, search for the joy in everything you do,” he said.
Nauset School Superintendent Brooke Clenchy lauded a senior class filled with “musicians, artists, scholars, athletes, entrepreneurs, innovators, teachers and learners.”
“Your collective potential is limitless,” she said.
Clenchy also noted the unique challenges that were placed upon this year’s seniors, who soldiered through half of their high school careers during an unprecedented pandemic that shuttered school buildings and forced schooling online for long stretches.
You were faced with having to be resilient,” she said. “You adjusted, you adapted and you made things work. Be clear in that that set of skills you have acquired and built in the last two and a half years are crucial skills, and will help you on a pathway to success.”
Citing a line for his favorite book, “The Little Prince,” Mulholland said embracing the future doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of the past. With any luck, he said, he and his fellow seniors will take pieces of their time at Nauset High with them moving forward.
“All grown ups were children first, but few of them remember it,” he said.