June 2, 2023 – Editorial/Opinion/Reflection by Joshua Ross
I was going back and forth whether or not to write this. There’s a good chance I will be disowned after it’s published. But this may be more therapy for me than for my graduating senior or his classmates. I realized at the Senior Academic Awards earlier this week when Kerry Breen was giving her speech about all the events the Hingham High School Class of 2023 experienced over the last 12 years that I was there for most of them. I wasn’t allowed to go on the DC trip. I asked.
What began as a volunteer position in 5th grade, turned into a leadership spot for both Middle School and High School PTOs, and then into a job covering the schools the past three years. It’s hard to think of an extended period of time I haven’t been at the school or at an event with this class over the past 7 years.
Starting with 6th grade Tailgate Social and continuing with 7th grade Halloween party, 8th grade bonfire and field days, 9th grade orientation, Covid (I’ll get to that in a second), senior field day, senior clap-out and senior prom to name a few. It will all end tomorrow/early hours of Sunday morning with graduation and senior night.
I figured out that I have photographed over 200 games, matches, meets, and races since they were freshman. I have had the privilege of get sneak previews of plays and musicals, and when everything was shutdown for a year and no one was allowed at sporting events, I was allowed to be there to capture the action.
I don’t even know how many group, team, and class photos I’ve taken of them. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even need to say anything to them anymore. On Wednesday morning the Foster School seniors got off the bus where I was waiting outside for them to take some photos for Senior clap-out. As they exited the bus, they automatically got into a semi-circle for a group picture. I didn’t say a word to them. It took the better part of a decade, but you can definitely teach teenagers to do what you want.
Here’s the part where I might get in trouble. In all the years of me being in the classrooms, at the fields, at the events, on field trips, and even at proms, Noah never complained that his dad was there. His whole time in Middle School and High School was with me around. The first thank you is to him for letting me be there and not filing a complaint with the Superintendent.
While I have only one child graduating this year, most days it feels like I have 318. It took some time for most to even talk to me, but once I started taking photos, I get texts from them all the time asking when the photos will be ready. Like my own kid, I got experience the highs and lows of high school with most of them. The heartbreaking, career ending losses and the exhilarating state championships. The record-breaking games and the ones where they were on the wrong end of a blowout. The awe-inspiring performances on stage and the down times when they just got to be with their friends. I wasn’t just in the stands and the audience, I was on the benches, on the ice and fields, and sometimes on the stage with them. Thank you to the Class of 2023 for letting me be there to capture and be a part of your moments.
Thank you to the Class of 2023 for being the definition of resilient. I don’t know if there is another group of kids who could have three of their four years be distrupted by a global pandemic and still make the most out of their time in high school.
Thank you to the Class of 2023 for being trendsetters. For all the obstacles they incurred over the past four years, they still managed to start new clubs, organizations, programs and sports teams. Especially in the world of Unified Sports. It was an honor and privilege to watch them lead and thrive in building these programs over the past few years. It has been said before, but this will be one of their lasting legacies to the school and community.
Thank you to the Class of 2023 for being great role models. While it didn’t surprise me, I was certainly not expecting to see how much they treated others as peers and not someone less. It didn’t matter if someone had less experience in front of an audience or never played a varsity sport, if you belonged, they made you feel as if you did. This also includes their interactions with all the kids from K-8. It always caught my attention on how well they presented themselves in front of the greater community. Seeing the baseball team sign autographs for the Hingham Little League players last week might have been the highlight of the past four years.
Finally, thank you to the Class of 2023 for being a really, really good group of kids, or should I say young adults. For a class as big as theirs, it’s impressive how well they get along, for the most part, with each other. Maybe doing Zoom classes in your pajamas for a year brought them closer together. There was no better example of this watching them having a great time with each other last night at prom.
Good luck to the Class of 2023 on whatever your next adventure will be. I hope your experience in high school was a memorable for you and your families as you all made it for me.