Chelsea celebrates Class of 2020 graduates in ceremony

Published 11:27 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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CHELSEA – The members of Chelsea High School’s 2020 class marked the end of one chapter and the beginning of another chapter in their lives on Tuesday, June 2, in a graduation ceremony at the school’s football stadium.

More than 300 students had the opportunity to return to the CHHS campus and receive their diplomas before their family and friends after the COVID-19 pandemic turned the final months of their senior year upside down.

“Life is going to give you setbacks. Things are not going to go always as you planned,” CHHS Principal Dr. Brandon Turner said. “You’ll have challenges, you’ll have difficulties and you’ll have failures. Out of challenges, new and often exciting opportunities present themselves. As you go through life, you are not going to be defined by your setbacks. What you’re going to be defined by is how you responded to the opportunities that presented themselves from those times.”

In his salutatorian address, Andrew Messier thanked all in attendance for celebrating a milestone he and his classmates had earned through hard work, dedication and perseverance.

“Overall, I cannot express how thankful and proud I am to be a Chelsea Hornet,” Messier said, praising the teachers, coaches, administrators and family members who impacted the students’ high school careers. “Learning that we can overcome this pandemic struggle with the help of communities around the world is empowering. Community requires people who have a sense of fellowship with each other, as well as the sharing of common attitudes, interests and goals. Having this unified group feeling is something alive and strong in Chelsea.”

Messier referenced a quote from Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” and said strength can be found in numbers.

“We need this strength, especially in the challenging times we live in today,” Messier said. “Go forward and use your talents to fit into your future communities. My challenge to you, Class of 2020, is to find your role. If we all excel in our roles, we will expand our communities and become stronger people every day.”

Valedictorian Yesenia Villanueva-Navarro expressed gratitude to the CHHS faculty and staff, her classmates and her family for their support.

“I dreamed of being on this stage,” she said, and urged her peers to pursue the personal goals they have. “Go for it, whatever it is that you want, because it is possible. We have come a long way. Let us continue to evolve in order to build a better future. I know we are living in unprecedented times, but we will triumph once again.”

Mayor Tony Picklesimer congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to make the most of what he called a “significant moment in time” that will be imprinted on people’s minds for many years to come.

“I hope you look back on this moment in time with pride, realizing what you accomplished during a most difficult time, but also with the realization that this was simply a starting point,” he said, “a starting point to writing the story of the rest of your life. Be all you can be and make us all proud, but most of all, make yourself proud.”