Smiles, Speeches, and Celebration at the Class of 2021’s Beach Graduation

Photography By Roman

Graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021 were held at the beach. Photo courtesy of Photography by Roman,

On June 16, 2021, commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 were held at Jennings Beach. Cars were bedecked with college banners and signs congratulating graduates. 

This was the second year that graduation was held at the beach. Last year, due to COVID-19, Fairfield Ludlowe High School decided to move the venue to the beach so families could social distance inside of their cars. This year, many seniors were seen mingling with one another as they waited for the ceremony to begin, an indication of how far Fairfield has come in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In a year when many senior traditions were cancelled or altered, the Class of 2021 was overjoyed to share this momentous occasion together.

Cars at the Fairfield Ludlowe High School Jennings Beach graduation (Harper Treschuk)

Student speakers including Class President, Ally Schwarz; Class Treasurer, Sean Mockler; Salutatorian, Freya Nangle; and Valedictorian, Rushil Mallarapu, all applauded their peers for resilience and strength during an unprecedented year.

Cars were decorated with positive messages for graduates at the graduation for the Class of 2021.

Fairfield Ludlowe Head Principal Mr. Hatzis congratulated students for meeting adversity and took an opportunity to thank the teachers, office staff, paraprofessionals, deans, counsellors, and families who helped the Class of 2021 get to this moment. Mr. Hatzis remarked, “We are all here tonight because of you. We all kept hope alive that we would be in a better place and we knew that with all you have endured, and all you have lost, you kept at it.”

FLHS Salutatorian, Freya Nangle, used a memory that the entire school community has shared—the winter Candlelight concerts—as an extended metaphor for her speech, specifically the moment when the audience is waiting for the orchestra to start playing and the lights to turn on. She spoke to the personal connections that defined her high school experience, as well as the “peaceful confusion” of embarking on a new chapter. Freya stated, “We often hear that today is the first day of the rest of our lives, but I don’t think that is true. Every day before today has had the potential to be that turning point, because the rest of our lives start when we realize that we have the power to change them. Graduation shows us that we are educated enough to change the world, but really, we can turn the lights on whenever we want to. That is the purpose of education.”

FLHS Valedictorian, Rushil Mallarapu, gave his classmates advice as they look ahead to the future: “So much of life is a result of careful planning and calculated effort, but also much of life is a beautiful surprise. When we go out into the world, we will see first hand how small incidents spiral into events shaping our futures in ways we never expect but wholly welcome. So put yourself out there, seek a life well and truly lived.”

Students cherishing the moment together at the Jennings Beach graduation.

As 372 seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, the atmosphere was one of jubilation. Family members and friends cheered or honked as students appeared on the wide screen. The Class of 2021 was able to celebrate not only the end of their high school careers, but also the opportunity to come together again for a shared experience—walk across the stage, cheer on their peers, and toss their caps into the air. As the sky faded and families dispersed, the FLHS Class of 2021 waited for the lights to again turn on for a new chapter.

The Prospect would like to congratulate the Class of 2021 for their achievements and resilience, and wishes graduates the best as they step into the future.