A town hall for VCS celebrates the Class of 2020

VICTOR — Georgia Mowers missed “that sense of closure” as the school year ended.

For Maxwell Ruscio, it was all of the senior activities he and the rest of his class was “missing out” on.

For Kyle Natrigo, it was being able to see his friends, and being able to “go out and do the normal stuff when it’s warming up, like going out to eat.”

Five seniors from Victor High School’s Class of 2020 joined Superintendent Tim Terranova for the district’s ninth virtual town hall Wednesday night to discuss their plans for next year, and what they missed most as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced schools across the state to close early and remain closed for the rest of the academic year. The students offered advice to their underclassmen as well.

“I’d say like live life in the moment, like don’t worry about the drama or anything because like, tomorrow’s a new day,” said Ijeoma Nwugwo, president for the senior class.

“Also try to do as many activities as you can, like clubs and stuff, sports. Even if you don’t think you’ll be good at it or enjoy it just try it, because there’s so many things that I did that I didn’t think I would like or stick with that I actually loved,” Mowers added.

The students received some advice and praise as well.

“This is your time. Choose to move ahead with strength and determination and focus on what you can do. Stay focused and positive,” Terranova said, reading off some of the 60 to 70 responses the districts had received from a ThoughtExchange question prompt.

“Class of 2020, may you remain optimistic in this time of uncertainty. You will be stronger for how you have navigated this challenging time,” read another comment.

Each of the students also got to discuss what they were looking forward to most, with many voicing an interest in continuing their educational careers into college.

“I’m just looking forward to college, you know. Just the new experiences and the new faces and new people I’m going to meet,” Nwugwo said, with Mowers echoing the sentiment.

“Yeah, I’m also excited just to go to college and see that new kind of lifestyle. And have things start to go back to normal, kind of get a new routine set up with being at college,” Mowers said.

“Whether online or not, it is like, it’s the next step in our lives. But I’d like to see it as that. I’d like to see it as a new thing,” Ruscio added.

Terranova also addressed graduation questions, telling the students the tentative plans for moving ahead, with all of the students preferring an in-person graduation ceremony tentatively scheduled for July 30.

Recounting a “great meeting” with the high school principal and the three assistant principals, Terranova said the staff was “working like crazy” to try and prepare for a graduation ceremony and additional activities, although it would depend on guidance from state health officials.

“So first hurdle is June 26. I know they have some special things planned for you, for seniors, for June 26. We’ve got to make sure, however, that we’re able to do it, you know, from a health standpoint, from the state,” Terranova said. “And then they’ve got these incredible ideas for July on the turf field for graduation. But again, we’ve got to make sure that we’re allowed to do it. If we can’t do that big graduation, it’s not going to be for lack of trying, and it’s certainly not going to be because of your administration. It’s going to be because the health department and the state say you can’t.”

As the town hall segment with the seniors closed out, Terranova passed along his own thoughts on the Class of 2020. While his recent appointment as superintendent for the district prevented him from fully engaging with the graduating class, he found they still left an impression on him.

“I’m never going to forget this class, because you will never be forgotten, for the fact that you had to deal with this situation and you did it in such a positive way,” he said.

“That perseverance and grit you had to deal with? That’s going to lead you to many great things as you get older. Your ability to deal with this change and this uncertainty, and do it with a positive attitude, even though there’s tough days, that’s going to serve all of you well.”