ROCHELLE — There were a lot of thank yous during Rochelle Township High School’s graduation on Saturday.
RTHS Principal Chris Lewis thanked parents for their understanding during the most challenging academic year of their children’s lives. He thanked teachers and staff for overcoming COVID-19 challenges to provide the best education possible for students.
Most of all, he thanked the 188 students sitting in front of him.
“You did everything we asked you to do this year,” Lewis said. “You wore your mask, you Zoomed in, you went to office hours. You survived hybrid learning, social distancing. All these things are new and you made it work.”
Lewis said the mission at RTHS is to prepare students for their tomorrow. To be successful in their tomorrow, students need character and perseverance.
“To make it to the end of this unusual year, students had to do more things on their own,” Lewis said. “You had to persevere more than anyone else. The character and perseverance of this group is what I will remember most.”
The ceremony was held outdoors on the football field to allow for more attendance. Students were allowed seven tickets each for their families. The stands were nearly filled. Students sat in chairs in front of a stage on the field.
Students were told earlier in May not to plan their graduation parties for the weekend because of a chance of rain and the possibility the ceremony could change times. It was a brisk morning Saturday, but the sun was out.
“Like many of you I was very nervous about planning an outdoor ceremony,” Lewis said. “I promised this class no weather issues. Sometimes things work out. While today’s ceremony doesn’t make up for this year, today seems normal. We’re not in the gym, but this is pretty cool. This is the first class in RTHS history to graduate on this field.”