‘Resiliency, hope and action’: Chelsea graduates more than 300 in class of 2021

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – When senior class president Maggie Bradford removed her blue graduation cap and put on a white cowboy hat on stage in front of her classmates, the 2021 Chelsea High School commencement ceremony officially began on Tuesday, May 25.

The hat, like pep rallies, homecoming, powder puff, sideline celebrations, playing on a competitive sports team and playing ping pong in the school’s lobby, were all symbols of this year’s senior class according to Bradford, with each bringing its own memory on a special year.

“Four years have come and gone, and I think we can all agree that our struggles, perseverance and hard work is worth celebrating,” she said. “Our stories began in kindergarten when we were free to think, create and be whoever we wanted to be. Now, we are older, more refined, have places we want to go and have a lifetime of decisions we will face. But for most, the question we often think of is, ‘Who will I be?’ I would like to say to the class of 2021, you are strong, unique, inspiring, courageous, bright and capable.”

It was a message well received by the 326 other graduates looking on from Chelsea High School’s football field as well as family, friends and teachers in the stands to celebrate with them.

As juniors, the class of 2021 was forced to end its school year early due to COVID-19, and then, this year started with mask requirements and a year unlike any other before.

Those obstacles and unique times, however, were all overcome and forgotten when they walked across the stage to receive their diploma.

“For me, it’s the small things I remember and appreciate. This class has undoubtedly been through their fair share of uncertainty, especially this last year,” valedictorian Emma Wolfe said. “Our senior year didn’t look the way that I think we all imagined it, but together, we made the most of it and we made it to this day. I may not have the perfect goodbye right now, but I know one thing is for sure, I’m going to miss this.”

The hindrances placed on this year’s senior class gave them a chance to prove three important characteristics that Chelsea Principal Brandon Turner noticed

“This class is particularly special, mainly based on the challenges they’ve endured and the ones that they’ve ultimately overcome,” Turner said. “A few weeks ago, I was asked to provide some remarks about the class of 2021. I thought of three words. Resiliency, hope and action.”

Turner wanted to pay specific attention to the action of this year’s senior class.

“It’s not where you’ve been, it’s about where you’re going,” Turner said. “You’ve endured and you’ve reached the finish line of high school. But now is your chance to take what you’ve learned and make a valuable contribution to the lives of those around you and beyond.

“I’m always a little bit envious of graduates because you have your whole life ahead of you. You’re entering a stage in life in which you’re going to start to further develop your values and personal standards and figure out how you’re going to make your mark on the world.”

Turner said that’s where the key in lies, hinting that after overcoming the roadblocks of the last year should show this year’s graduating class not to stop chasing your dream.

“Each of you have goals and dreams, and they’re all in front of you for the taking,” Turner said. “Plan, embrace them and commit the action necessary to see them through. Don’t settle for the norm. Don’t accept a limited view of yourself and what you can achieve. Dare to become the best that you can be. And in so doing, you’ll bring about a better world for you and those who will be fortunate enough to be around you.”

Salutorian Tanner Marlow spoke similar words during his speech, sharing how the foundation built by Chelsea High School is their starting block to making a difference in the world.

After comparing the senior class to robins growing up under the care of their mother, and eventually spreading their wings to leave the nest, he told this year’s graduates the time has come for them to do the same.

“Class of 2021, this school is nothing but a foundation for the future. We should not look at these four years and reflect on them for the rest of our lives,” Marlow said. “We put our skills into action and become functioning bodies. We will not dance on a foundation waiting for it to be a house. We will strive for new heights and break walls never broken before. This next stage in life, you will make an impact. You won’t sit back and watch it happen, you will act in it. You will take this foundation and turn it into a skyscraper.

“This is not just survival, this is life. Are you ready to fly?”