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Callaway High class of 2021 celebrates end to unique school year

Resilience. Perseverance. Strength. These were just some of the words used to describe the Callaway High School graduating class of 2021 at Thursday’s ceremony.

Like other graduating classes around the country, Callaway came into its senior year in the midst of the pandemic where masks and social distancing became as normal as lunch period.

“It’s been a crazy year,” Superintendent Brian Shumate said. “Last March 13, 2020, we shut down schools for two weeks, which turned into about 10 weeks. We never went back to school, so you all missed out on the end of your junior years.”

Shumate reminded students of the delay to their senior years and the extra steps teachers and staff took just to prepare for virtual and in-class learning.

“I was just hoping to make it to Labor Day … but everyone came together to make this thing work,” Shumate said.

Valedictorian Saeam Shim recalled the impact the pandemic had on his and his peers junior year, adding that there had been uncertainty if they’d be able to have senior graduation at all.

Despite the uncertainties, Shim said they made it and can now look forward to the future.

“Some of you are going to go to college, some to work or to the military, and some of you are going to start your own paths,” he said. “No matter where you go or what you do, there are going to be some challenges, but we have to keep going.”

Shim implored his classmates to face such challenges with their heads held high and their hearts wide open.

Before handing over the 221 graduates their diploma, Shumate reminded them that despite the tragedy of the past year, some good has come from it as the community and the school system has become closer.

“People say you won’t be defined by this, but I do think you’re going to be defined by this year,” Shumate said.

“Your senior year will be the thing that everyone talks about for the rest of your life … and hopefully you can take that as a learning opportunity because the world is going to change, and it has changed as a result of this.”