Congratulations, Class of 2021!


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Congratulations, Class of 2021!

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro congratulates all local high school seniors graduating this year. Below, you'll find a video from the County Executive, expressing his congratulations to the members of the Class of 2021 for their accomplishment; the full text of his remarks follows.

Class of 2021


As you graduate this year and move on to the next chapter of your lives, 'congratulations' is a word you’re likely going to hear repeatedly in the coming days from loved ones, friends, teachers, administrators … and even a politician or two. It’s a word that’s routinely bandied about this time of year to graduating classes, but perhaps it’s never been more deserving than for yours, the Class of 2021.

Graduation in itself is a tremendous achievement – the years of classes and tests, countless hours of study, not to mention your extracurricular activities – but reaching this day is all the more impressive, given all you have endured since last March. None of us watching from the outside can fathom what a global pandemic affecting our junior and senior years must be like, or how we’d react when faced with these unparalleled times.

You, however, have responded the only way we in Dutchess County know how: We face challenges head-on; we push through; and we succeed, proving to the world we are a community unlike any other. By graduating today and not allowing the past 16 months to derail your journey toward success, you exemplify the resiliency and determination that defines Dutchess County and its residents.

We do what needs to be done to complete a job. We never waver, no matter what is thrown our way. And we never quit, seeing the task ahead of us through to completion.

Not that it’s always easy.

I know there were moments along your path where it would’ve been easy for some to give up, to say 'This is just too hard,' and forego your dream of reaching this day. Let’s face it: This pandemic has taken a lot – stolen a lot – from each of us. We have all suffered loss during these unprecedented times.

It could be the loss of a loved one, which countless residents throughout our county, myself included, have experienced, leaving an immeasurable void never to be filled.

It might be the loss of your independence, being confined to seemingly the same four walls for days, weeks, months at a time, when quarantine and physically distancing might have seemed too much to bear.

Perhaps it’s something as simple, yet meaningful, as the fun and innocence of high school: the dances, the clubs, the outings, the social interactions and experiences outside the classroom from which you learn and grow just as much as from the lessons you learn in class. These are the times we who are older still fondly recall; yet sadly, for far too long, you were robbed on those good times, those memories.

Still, you, the Class of 2021, will not allow this pandemic to define your high school years. Rather, by receiving your diplomas this day, you have proven you can rise above anything, and you are shining examples of Dutchess County’s indominable spirit. For even in the wake of a worldwide pandemic that has forever changed us all, you did not give up, nor did you give in.

Instead, for you, this pandemic will be but a footnote in your success story, future chapters of which are still yet to be written. And they all begin today.

The strength and determination you have displayed to get to this day will carry you far following this final day of your high school career. The knowledge, skills, and personal growth you’ve gained will serve you well in your future – no matter what you choose that future to be.

When hurdles present themselves – and make no mistake, they will – you will be able to look back on your pursuit of this diploma during these most difficult of times. You’ll find strength in knowing you faced these challenges, and solace in the fact that you prevailed.

Whatever you braved to get to this day, no matter what difficulty was put in your way, you have made it to this graduation day. You are each an inspiration to your family and your friends, and you’re examples for the students who will follow the trail you have blazed.

You have made your school, faculty, and administrators proud, knowing the amazing young men and women you have each become while in their care. You have made Dutchess County proud, and I know you will continue to do so. Congratulations!

While today is the end of your high school experience, it is the beginning of your future. So much was stolen from you these last 16 months ... now, go out there and steal it back!"