Mahar grads reflect on high school, interrupted


Staff Writer

Published: 06-02-2023 9:01 PM

ORANGE – Seventy-six students with few memories of a pre-pandemic high school closed a challenging chapter of their lives Friday when they moved their tassels from right to left at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s graduation.

The 2023 graduating class was filled with young people who endured unprecedented world circumstances, and their completion milestone was a constant theme at the ceremony held in the gymnasium due to rain. The air inside the gymnasium was stuffy and hot, and many people used their ceremony programs or handheld fans to cool down.

In his farewell remarks, Class President Liam Lucas-Mullen mentioned other classes had missed graduation ceremonies and proms – but he and his classmates were most impacted by the COVID-19 calamity and “missed the meat of our high school careers.”

Pandemic measures went into place when the 2023 graduating class was in the middle of its first year. Lucas-Mullen said he and his peers were juniors when life stared returning to normal.

“Two years of our lives had vanished,” he said.

Lucas-Mullen, who previously told the Greenfield Recorder he plans to attend Fitchburg State University and become a history teacher, echoed the sentiments of those who spoke before him. Keynote speaker Ian Bashaw, an English teacher at Mahar, delivered a humorous but heartfelt speech about turning his life around. He explained he graduated high school in 2005 and attended college, only to be more interested in sleeping in than attending classes.

Bashaw said he earned a 1.0 grade-point average and received a letter informing him he was not welcome back for the spring semester. He said a series of personal reflections and conversations with his family convinced him to appeal that decision, and he was allowed back, on academic probation. He called this period “a truly defining moment in my life.”

Bashaw thanked the graduating students for reigniting his passion for his profession when he was considering a career change. He told them that no matter the changes they make in the world, “know you’ve already changed my life for the better.”

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Principal Scott Hemlin read a list of all scholarships and their recipients and said the scholarships exceeded $94,000.

Secretary Noah Rumrill and Treasurer Rhianna Wilson presented the class gift – $2,500 to update the school's green-screen room – and School Committee Chair Peter Cross took to the podium to congratulate the departing seniors for overcoming adversity.

“You can’t control what happens,” Cross said. “But you can control how you handle what happens.”


Eddie Vincent Agnelli, Jamison Paul Baleno, Lacey Abigail Barry, Astha Maude-Mae Bernard, Isabella Maureen Bisceglia, Michael Boudreau, Jocelyn Lily Brown, Isabella Thereasa Buccaroni, Isaiah Louis Buccaroni, Domanic Charles Cacciolfi, Jayden Jacob Carey, Aubrey Diane Patricia Castine, Adeline Candace Chinian, Luke Robert Chiodo, Oliver Benjamin Crossman, Nathan James Danielson, Cathal Arthur Davis, Samuel Charles DeJackome, David Burl Derderian, Andrew Ray Desreuisseau, Liam Larkin-Quinn DiDonato, Kendrah Anne Doane, Rachel Marie Dorow, Cameron James Doyle, Emmy Jane Fahey, Peter Ellinwood Frost, Alexeya Beth-ann Galvin, Serenity May Gordon, Jordan Elaine Green, Sally Fay Houle, Asher Howes-Jensen, Annabell Lee Jillson, Adrianna Faith Johnson, Saylor Allison Kegans, Aqib Mohammad Khan, Chloe Morgan LaRhette, Zenta Anna Leimanis, Kaleb Daniel Lemcke, Liam Paul Lucas-Mullen, Juan Adriel Lugo, Hunter  Thomas Martin, Alivia Lee  Melanson, Sophie Rose Miller, Kayley Elizabeth Murphy, Katrena Louise Nimtz, Trent James Ollendorf-Talbot, Alexis Jean-Marie Packard, Lily Anne Elizabeth Powell, Jaylin Nevaeh Provencher, Jiovanni Rahaim, Emilia Elizabeth Ramos, Xander Ali Roberts, Robert Michael Rollston, Baylee Marie Rousseau, Noah Edw ard Rumrill, Gage Joseph Santos, Callum Arcus Simon, Henry Roy Simpson, Connor Gabriel Sisson, Connor Joseph Sluder, Riley Russell Smith, Avery Cole Sorenso, Kiandra Maleia Springer, Tyler James Stevens, Gavin Michael Sullivan, Heath Amber-Marie Suzor, Kameron Patrick Tompkins, Milo Petit Troisi, Alexander Cain Velez, Jeremy Cameron Vezina, Dakota Jean Walker, Caraline Jean White, Emily Jean Willard, Rhianna Doreen Wilson, Sophia Jean Woods, Autumn Skye Wright.