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Class of 2020: Hampshire Regional ballplayer over lost senior season, ready for ROTC

  • Bennett Kelly, a senior at Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton, where he would have been playing his last season of baseball. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bennett Kelly, a senior at Hampshire Regional High School, throws an old commencement hat in the air while in the empty parking lot at the school. The spaces were part of senior class privileges, in which a student could choose and paint a spot. Kelly didn’t get one, but many were done by his peers. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bennett Kelly, a senior at Hampshire Regional High School, poses for a photo in the empty parking lot at the school. The spaces were part of senior class privileges, in which a student could choose and paint a spot. Kelly didn’t get one, but many were done by his peers. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bennett Kelly, a senior at Hampshire Regional High School, where he would have been playing his last season of baseball. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/23/2020 12:46:17 PM

Editor’s note: Over the past four years, the Class of 2020 has made their voices heard, advocating for women’s rights, against gun violence and for action on climate change. They’ve also shone in the classroom, on stages and on playing fields. And then, just as senioritis was supposed to set in, along with a season of celebration, the global pandemic struck. For the next few days, the Gazette is spotlighting students in the Class of 2020 — congratulations to all the graduates and their families.​​​​

 

SOUTHAMPTON — When Bennett Kelly left Hampshire Regional High School early one Friday in March, a privilege he enjoyed as a senior because his last period was study hall, he didn’t think it would be his last day there.

“I never got to say goodbye to anyone,” Kelly said. “I just thought it was a normal day.”

Later that day, however, the school announced it would be closed for two weeks in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It would not reopen.

Kelly is a member of Hampshire Regional’s baseball team, which lost its spring season to the pandemic.

Kelly helped his friend Matthew Quenneville design the team’s caps this year, which included the words “Leave your mark.”

But their senior year was cut off before they could achieve that goal.

“Our mark kind of was left junior year,” Kelly said, speaking of himself and his senior teammates.

Kelly, who made the junior varsity team at Hampshire Regional when he was in eighth grade, said he felt the team stepped up and performed his junior year, going on a big win streak after a bad start, before losing the game that would have gotten the team into the playoffs. All of the juniors on the team had SATs scheduled for that day and had to show up late to the game.

Kelly had been looking forward to visiting his old elementary school in his cap and gown during senior week, a Hampshire Regional tradition. He attended William E. Norris School, and his little sister, Elsa, currently goes there.

As for his post-graduation plans, Kelly is set to attend Westfield State University for criminal justice as a member of the school’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

“I felt like it was a great opportunity to stay organized and fit in college,” Kelly said. He hopes to become an officer in the Army and then a state trooper.

For now, Kelly encourages people to stay safe and wear a mask during the pandemic.

“You’ve got to battle this thing out because it’s not going to go away anytime soon,” he said.

Kelly shared that he and some of his fellow seniors drove out to the school post-closure for a socially distant car circle. And he said that the best thing about the school for him was his relationship with his teachers.

His favorite teachers were Kelly Carpenter, who he considered to be like a “second mom” to him at school; Thomas Smith, his physics teacher; Todd Bryant, his biology teacher; and Grayson Dewitt, who taught history.

“He was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my life,” Kelly said.

Kelly is glad to be looking forward to prom and graduation this year, with the school saying they could possibly have prom on Aug. 6 and graduation on Aug. 8.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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