The Class of 2W1 heard words of thanks and praise as their 1,000-day Williamson journey ended with the Senior Chapel on May 21.
President Michael Rounds reminded the seniors that their education was interrupted by the pandemic that forced them to finish their junior year learning virtually at home before returning to campus in the fall of 2020. “When we started the school year there was a lot of stress and anxiety about what was going to happen. Our number one priority was to keep everyone safe, but we felt that you guys needed to be here. The Williamson experience is not one you take looking at a computer screen.
“I knew we were going to be OK when you seniors unveiled your class motto – “We are all in this together.” We are all in. That’s Williamson. We’re here. We’re together. We’re all in this together. That’s what you need in adversity. Real leaders embrace the challenge and that’s what you did. We learned to adapt and adjust and to be resilient and work together.
“What’s your new mission now? You are all going your own direction. Your new journey is starting. Excel and strengthen the meaning of being a Williamson Man. Most importantly, remember the core values.”
The chapel began with Rev. Mark Specht 7W7 leading the pledge of allegiance and Sean Howat, assistant chaplain, providing the scripture reading.
Andrew Williams, the freshman class president, said “This is the day you have worked for the last three years. I’m honored to be here speaking to you. I have a genuine thrill to see you move on with your lives.”
James McChesney, the junior class president said, “You guys have been an incredible part of my life with the leadership you have shown – in shop, in sports, just in everyday life. You guys have really stepped it up.”
Speaking on behalf of the Alumni Association, Kevin Hatch 0W8, the Association’s 2nd vice president, said “You are a special class that has endured challenge. When you started, you never thought you would graduate during a pandemic. But you did what Williamson men do best, you adapted and adjusted and now you are about to graduate. Be proud and spread the word of Williamson.”
Thomas Moffitt, vice president of student affairs, said “Today we take a moment to honor our senior class on their last day on campus. This year, so many things you were looking forward to were eliminated. This was a tough year. Outright of World War I and World War II, I can’t think of a time at Williamson that has tested our students so forcefully.”
Then, Dr. Michelle Williamson, vice president of academic affairs/CAO, Rounds, and Moffitt, handed each senior a Williamson coin with their initials, class year, shop, the school’s core values, and the school seal. The coins are meant to be a reminder of Williamson’s core values — faith, integrity, diligence, excellence, and service — and everything learned at Williamson. Hatch handed each senior a gift from the Alumni Association.
The coins were purchased through a gift from the André J. Dupuis Foundation, which was created in memory of André Dupuis, a 2001 horticulture graduate who passed away in 2011. The foundation is dedicated to preserving the memory of André’s kindness and generosity.
After a closing prayer from Specht and the Artisans leading the singing of the alma mater, faculty and staff formed a reception line and congratulated the departing students with fist bumps.
A special surprise for each senior was a check for $1,500 from Uncle Sam to help them deal with getting their education during a pandemic. The checks were handed to them by Dawn Alonso, bookkeeper.
The Class of 2W1 will return to campus on Friday, June 4, for their Commencement ceremony with Kenneth Langone, co-founder of Home Depot delivering the keynote address.