TRMC Class of 2020 Perseveres to Break Records

TRMC Class of 2020 Perseveres to Break Records
TRMC limousine

The celebration might have been a bit nontraditional, but there was still plenty of joy, cheers, and flair as Three River Middle College (TRMC) held its Commencement on Friday, June 12.

The school wrapped up a year of unprecedented challenges with a ceremony honoring one of the most successful graduating classes in its history. Traditionally, TRMC holds its commencement on campus at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 33 members of the Class of 2020 were celebrated at a drive-through Commencement at LEARN’s Central Office in Old Lyme, following social distancing practices throughout the ceremony.

While the change in venue and format changed the usual presentation and eliminated the standard processional, the graduates’ families showed plenty of pride. Students arrived in style in everything from off-road trucks to stretch limousines, with horns honking and loved ones cheering. Each grad had their own moment to accept their diploma and enjoy their accomplishments before their next classmate was signaled into the lot.

TRMC teachers and staff served as the bulk of the audience, seeing their students in person for the first time in three months. All classes, including college courses, have been online since March. Speeches were recorded before the ceremony and shared with the graduates after they received their diplomas.

“The transition to online learning during a global pandemic was a potentially catastrophic event, but you handled it with grit resulting in an exemplary academic semester,” TRMC Principal Brad Columbus told graduates. “I have never been more impressed with a collective group in my educational career.”

Collectively, the Class of 2020 was the most accomplished in the school’s history, accumulating 1,064 college credits as a group. More than 90 percent of the high school graduates are college-bound with at least one semester’s worth of credits already earned. Moreover, the students strengthened their independent study skills and learned to communicate in times of crisis.

“The Class of 2020 forged a path of excellence not only academically but through your character and leadership, Columbus said.

TRMC does not select a valedictorian or salutatorian. Instead, student speakers are selected from the school’s Court of Excellence, reserved for graduates with a minimum 3.5 GPA, at least 30 college credits earned, and who adhere to the TRMC honor code. Seven students from the Class of 2020 achieved Court of Excellence status: McKenna Brooks, Georgia Corbett, Diego Cruz, Elyse Gathy, Angel Gonzalez, Jack Mello, and Joshua Oswald.

Mello reflected on the close-knit, family feel of TRMC, extending from the students to the faculty and staff. He called his decision to attend the school one of the best of his life.

“The Coronavirus challenged us in many ways, but it has not taken away the spirit of the Wolfpack,” Mello said. 

In her remarks, Gathy reminisced on the experience of being a high school student in a college setting and seeing learners of all ages. Yet everyone was motivated with the same dream: a quality education.

“We all witnessed firsthand, every day, that it doesn't matter if you’re 18 or 80; it’s never too late or too early to pursue an education,” Gathy said.

Charlotte Corbett addressed the national protests and challenged her classmates to answer the call to push forward and correct the wrongs of the past. She encouraged everyone to stand tall and be heard, and for those with privilege to help amplify the voices of those who have been silenced for too long.

“No matter where we go or where life takes us, we have the opportunity and responsibility to speak up and out against the injustices that have been pervasive and harmful,” Corbett said. “Don’t let it go to waste,” Corbett said.

LEARN, the Regional Educational Service Center for southeastern Connecticut, administers TRMC. The program is a magnet high school for 11th and 12th graders, with a curriculum focused on college preparation and dual enrollment in Three Rivers Community College courses.

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