Concord High graduates celebrate with friends, family and faculty

  • Jessica Nehme waves during the socially distant Concord High School graduation ceremony on Saturday. Eileen O’Grady Monitor staff

  • Concord High School graduate Hamza Abdulrahman at the 2020 graduation for the Commons B at Memorial Field on Saturday, June 13,2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School graduate Hamza Abdulrahman waves to a fellow graduate at the end of the 2020 graduation for the Commons B at Memorial Field on Saturday, June 13,2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Concord High School graduate Hamza Abdulrahman tosses his cap inside his cubicle at the 2020 graduation for the Commons B at Memorial Field on Saturday, June 13,2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Concord High graduate Hamza Abdulrahman waves to a teacher as he lines up for one of Saturday’s graduation ceremonies. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/13/2020 5:04:43 PM

Hamza Abdulrahman didn’t leave his house once during his first week in Concord. It was the summer before his freshman year at Concord High School and he had just arrived in the United States from Egypt, after having lived in Sudan and Syria. He didn’t know how to say as much as hello in English. It wasn’t until his cousin and friend convinced him to go to the park for a game of pickup basketball, which he had never played before, that he began to settle into the community.

On Saturday, Abdulrahman, now 19, strode across the stage to receive his diploma from Concord High School as captain of the boys’ varsity basketball team, captain of the boys’ football team, a former member of the track team and an active member of Be the Change Club, CHS’s multicultural student organization.

“I used to be a shy person,” said Abdulrahman. “But Be the Change Club taught me a lot. You have to step up, you have to communicate.”

Abdulrahman, who will be attending Husson University in Bangor, Maine, in the fall, said he strives to be a collaborator.

“The word ‘leader’ is not a big thing to me,” Abdulrahman said. “I want to be involved in the community and make everybody happy.”

At Saturday’s ceremony, 307 students graduated from Concord High in a set of three socially distant ceremonies spaced throughout the day at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. About 226 family members and 35 faculty, staff and school committee members sat on folding chairs at Memorial Field, spaced at least 6 feet apart in a grid system designed by CHS architecture teacher George Golden and painted onto the field.

Students, wearing red and white masks made by the robotics team, lined up along the track and proceeded into the middle of the field behind the marching drum line, to pre-recorded music from the CHS band and orchestra.

Almost everyone who spoke at graduation referenced the tumultuous circumstances around graduation – the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

“As we are aware, our country is being tested right now in some very visceral ways,” CHS principal Mike Reardon told the graduates. “In Concord High School those questions and tests ... are being answered every day in our school’s corridors and classrooms.”

The message of the day was one of perseverance and overcoming adversity to reach goals.

For senior Jessica Nehme, the path to graduation wasn’t easy. Although she rarely discussed it in school, her personal struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as insomnia, sometimes made it hard for Nehme to believe she would graduate.

“For me, the struggle a lot of the time was showing up and getting through the day,” Nehme said. “I can’t control good or bad days, and on a bad day there was a lot of pushing myself. There was a lot of tears in the bathroom.”

Nehme, 18, said it was the support she received from members of the Concord High School community – in the form of kind words, texts, hugs from strangers and conversations with teachers – that pushed her to finish, despite sometimes missing large chunks of school at a time.

“The biggest thing I told myself is I would regret every day that I didn’t push myself to go in,” Nehme said. “I managed to graduate, and I also managed to resemble myself in my work which isn’t always easy. I was me the whole time.”

At each ceremony, screens projected video footage of the CHS Chamber Singers performing the national anthem, and a pre-recorded video message from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.

Class salutatorian Johanne Nichols, valedictorian Victoria Yang, and Autumn Nudd, who won this year’s speech competition, each spoke about the accomplishments of the graduating seniors in classes, clubs and sports.

“Each one of us is leaving as a different person than how we walked in,” Nudd said. “I know that every single one of you will change the world. Because you know what it takes to change the world? Never giving up.”

Senior Maya Fabozzi introduced the Memory Chair, an empty seat with a single white rose to symbolize those who could not be present for the ceremony.

“Our present isn’t what we planned and our future is far from predictable, but our goals can still be achieved,” Fabozzi said.

Switching their tassels from right to left was a bittersweet moment for this year’s Concord seniors, who made it to graduation despite having a final year cut short with no prom, spring sports season or spring musical.

“I would kill to slowly walk through the classrooms and brush my fingertips on the walls and have a soft ballad playing in the background,” Nehme joked. “You have to make your own closure.”

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2020 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy