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LYNNFIELD — When the last bell of the day rang on a seemingly average afternoon on March 12, Senior Class President Megan Battaglia was in pre-calculus.
Battaglia, like so many of her peers, was blissfully unaware that when she walked out of the doors of Lynnfield High School at 2:26 that afternoon, she would never have the chance to walk back in.
“I’ve been trying to go back to that day,” Battaglia said. “I didn’t register that I would never be in class again.”
In all fairness, how could she, or anyone else, have known? Being class president comes with its fair share of responsibilities, but predicting the future isn’t one of them.
An indoor track captain for the 2019-2020 season, Battaglia was also set to be captain of the outdoor track team, but her sneakers never had a chance to hit the ground.
While she may not have been able to see the future, Battaglia’s intuition has always been strong. As her junior year approached, she filled out the paperwork to run for student council.
“I did it in pencil because part of me knew,” she said. “Part of me knew that I wanted to run for president. So, I just erased ‘representative’ and checked off ‘president’ and turned it in to Ms. Breen.”
Junior year turned out to be Battaglia’s favorite, thanks, not only to her electoral victory, but also the “out of this world” France trip she took and the DJ who played “Baby Shark” at the class of 2020’s one and only prom.
As junior year drew to a close and Battaglia looked forward to serving as senior class president, little did she know life, just a year later, would be anything but what she pictured.
Battaglia imagined tossing her cap into the air, as almost all seniors do. She imagined the thrills of Senior Week. And she imagined herself at the podium, giving her speech while shaking off nerves in front of bleachers packed with family and friends.
Instead, she gave that speech in an empty stadium, adjusting to the stark reality that she and her classmates became graduates, not by walking together across a stage, but individually while families watched remotely via live streaming video.
In her remarks, Battaglia said she began writing her speech on March 23 at 2 p.m.
“I was trapped in my car alone, afraid of the alarm going off after my mother took away my car keys once she heard me exclaim that I was leaving to get an iced coffee, which she clearly did not want me doing. Her rationale makes sense to me now, we were at the beginning of a global pandemic and the way her daughter was willing to risk it all for a medium iced caramel swirl with almond milk was concerning, even if Dunkin Donuts is an essential business.”
Battaglia said her graduation message was to “embrace the not knowing … because we don’t know what life’s going to throw at us. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is really important.”
She challenged her classmates to heed the words of author Bob Goff.
“Bob Goff says it best, ‘Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.’”
Battaglia said speaking on behalf of her grade as class president was an honor. If she could say anything to them, one last time, it would simply be, “thank you.”
“It felt really short,” she said. “And I know everyone says that [about high school], but it felt extra short without the few months. It almost feels like it’s never going to be fully over.”
Battaglia said isolation has ironically brought the Class of 2020 closer, the first to graduate in the middle of a global pandemic in 100 years.
No amount of pre-calculus could have predicted that.
“Part of us [will] always be seniors, you know? We have those three months that we’ll always be searching for because we never got to say goodbye,” Battaglia said. “And, actually, something about that is pretty unique.”
Sometimes, hindsight really is 20/20.