‘When the pandemic hit, we realized everything we had at Scecina’

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Valedictorian Bailey Sims gives her speech at the Class of 2020 Commencement ceremony in the Crusader gym.

Class of 2020 valedictorian Bailey Sims, now a freshman at Butler University, gave the following speech at the delayed Commencement in July.

To all of the graduates, I want you to imagine you’re sitting at home watching your all-time favorite movie. This is a movie that you have seen a hundred times; you know it by heart, and you can quote it with ease. You know every twist and turn, every shocking reveal, and you are fully aware of how it ends. Now, imagine you’re watching that movie again, but this time there is an alternate ending. This ending completely changes the story, you’re sitting there shocked, confused, and in utter disbelief of this dramatic and sudden change. That movie is the class of 2020’s senior year in a nutshell.   

We have spent our whole lives looking up to the senior classes that have come before us. We’ve always known what senior year would entail and the opportunities that we would have. However, our senior year wasn’t like that. Our senior year was cut short due to a global pandemic, and we experience an alternate ending that left us upset, angry, and questioning why this had to happen to our class.   

Our last day

Thursday, March 12, was the day that our school learned that Scecina was switching to e-learning in light of a mandated quarantine. However, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that we realized we wouldn’t be returning to finish out our senior year in the traditional way. We didn’t know that our last day in school was going to be our last day at Scecina. People say that you never know what you have until it’s gone, and they are right. I don’t know how many times I sat in a classroom wishing for the school day to be over, or the numerous countdowns I would have in my planner until our next break.  Now, I would give anything to go back and be in school again with all of my friends and teachers, learning in the classroom, eating lunch in the cafeteria, having all-school Mass on Wednesday, and participating in sports and clubs. When the pandemic hit, our eyes were opened and we realized everything we had at Scecina, and sadly everything we were now missing.   

It’s easy to look at the whole COVID situation and focus on the negatives. But, in reality, this event helped us grow stronger connections with our friends and classmates. We resorted to social media to keep each other posted on how we were. We relied on messaging and facetime to talk with our friends, and we used Microsoft teams to connect and work with one another. This pandemic also helped us to be better prepared for the future. After high school, we are thrown into a world that is completely different than what we’re used to. We are no longer surrounded by our classmates, some who have been with us for 12 or more years, and we’re thrown into a new environment of learning. With this pandemic, we were able to experience these changes on a smaller scale. For a few months, we were able to explore a different learning environment and see what it was like to not have our friends sitting in the desk across from us.     

Throughout our life, we’ll all be faced with many important decisions to make. However, one decision we didn’t get to make was how our senior year was going to end. But instead of focusing on the negatives of the situation, I encourage you all to focus on the positive events that have occurred throughout our four years here at Scecina.   

Commencement 2020

We still have memories

Instead of focusing on the fact that we didn’t get our spring senior season in our perspective sports, let’s remember that we have many classmates among us who have won conference, sectional, and regional titles. We even have a classmate that was a part of the 2017 State Champion softball team. Instead of focusing on the fact that many of us didn’t get to perform the Spring Musical “Newsies,” which would have been one heck of a show, let’s recognize the many talented actors and actresses who have put on amazing musicals and plays during their time here. Let’s recognize our incredible classmates who are members of the band and choir that have put on many entertaining concerts. Let’s focus on the fact that we have classmates who are very talented artists, and who have been locally and nationally recognized for the amazing art pieces. And let’s remember that we have classmates who were apart of the Academic Super Bowl teams that made it to the State Finals last year, and one who infamously went on to become known as “The Hammer.” 

We are a class of students who are all unique in their own way. We all have our strengths and talents, but together we form a class that has achieved so much in the past four years, and one that will continue to make a positive change in this world.  

And I stand here today as a friend and speak not only for myself but for the parents, teachers, faculty, and staff when I say that I am so proud of everything this class has accomplished throughout these years, especially this year, given the circumstances.

With that being said, a lot of what we have accomplished as a class and as individuals would not have been possible without the help of those around us. Due to this, I want to take this time to thank all of those who have impacted us one way or another, and who have helped us achieve great things.    

We owe gratitude

Thank you to all of the parents and family members who have always supported us throughout our lives. You are the people we look to for advice and guidance when we need it most. Without your unyielding love and support, a lot of what we have accomplished would not have been possible. Thank you to my classmates. Throughout these last four years, you have all become more than just someone I have class with, or someone I pass in the halls. You have become my family. Thank you to the coaches, directors, and club moderators who provided us with a place to express ourselves and find release. You have always encouraged us and pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves. Thank you to the faculty and staff. The last four years have been a crazy journey, but with your guidance and support, we were able to navigate our way through it. You have all worked tirelessly to provide us with the best high school experience. Even when the pandemic hit, you worked hard to give us a special ending to our senior year even if we were working from home. Finally, thank you to the faculty and staff who have done everything in their power to allow us to be together today, virtual or otherwise, to celebrate this major achievement. Without the love, support, and guidance from all of these people, many of us might not have achieved half the things we did during our time at Scecina.   

As we move forward from Scecina, may we always remember the time we spent together and the memories that we made. We have learned and will continue to live the Father Tom motto: “Give that little extra.” Our brains are filled with an education that will make our futures bright and our hearts beat to the tempo of the fight song because we will always be Scecina Crusaders no matter where we go or what we do.  We can say goodbye to this building, but we will never truly say goodbye to Scecina. Although endings are inevitable, what we have here will stay with us throughout our lives.   

‘Test positive for faith’

In light of the pandemic and our future, I encourage you to test positive in faith, keep distance from doubt, and isolate from fear. And most importantly trust God through it all. 

As I finish my speech, I would like to leave you all with an Irish blessing that has followed me through life:  

May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.  

Thank you.

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