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"It Was Worth The Wait" - An Unusual and Excellent 2020 Graduation

Masks can't hide these graduates' happiness.

Mystery grad.

Old friends.

Family time.

A Different, Unique, Yet Entirely Fantastic Graduation Took Place July 31
by Kim McNeil, Senior Parent
When schools shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was so much uncertainty about how G-D’s Class of 2020 seniors would navigate their much anticipated and hoped for Senior Spring.
     With schools closed and learning done remotely, spring sports were understandably yet sadly cancelled as well. Would important special spring class activities like Prom, Spring Concert, Class Trip and Graduation all be rescheduled or cancelled? What would happen with graduation?
There was talk of some sort of graduation, but not specifically what it would look like. Students in the Class of 2020 came together and proactively worked on a plan. Led by Class President Ari Navetta, classmate Rory Andrews and many others, they advocated for their class by bringing their ideas forward to the administration and the School Committee.
     Meetings were held and seniors were surveyed about possible scenarios on how best to navigate through their highly anticipated Senior Spring and, most importantly, would a formal graduation even be allowed to happen under these highly unusual and volatile circumstances, all while waiting to hear what the Dept. of Education would set as guidelines. Throughout the uncertainty, these seniors were sure about one thing . . . they very much wanted and desperately needed to gather together one last time as a class to be formally recognized at an in-person graduation as close as possible to a traditional graduation.
     The class understood of course the need to observe the main CDC guidelines and protocols during COVID-19 of protecting each other, their families, the administration and teachers by all attendees having to wear masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines of remaining at least 6-ft. apart from one another. Only seniors and four family members/guests, along with the administration and faculty were invited in order to limit the size of the gathering. The seniors fought for this graduation and were grateful that their voices were sought and heard and, in the end, were a valued part of the solution.
     Fast forward to last Friday, July 31st. A different and very unique yet fantastic graduation. Strict guidelines were put into place. To ensure proper social distancing, graduates were allowed only four guests, seniors and their families had to travel in the same vehicle together, guests were to be registered and checked upon arrival, families were pre-assigned an arrival time and a parking spot, masks were required, and all registered guests would sit together in a group of four seats.
     Due to the direction from the Dept. of Education, the ceremony would be short, with speeches limited to the Class President (Ari Navetta), Valedictorian (Akul Chennakesavan) and Salutatorian (Kirsten Sjoberg). Sadly, not even Principal Mike Woodlock was allowed to speak, always a crowd favorite! Diplomas, typically announced for each graduating senior and handed out personally by a faculty member, were this year announced by members of the Class of 2020 for one another!
     A creative and well-thought-out plan indeed that was “different” yet acceptable and very much appreciated by the Class of 2020. These seniors deserved to have their final wish granted after all that they had so sadly missed throughout their Senior Spring. The class remained respectful of the moment throughout the ceremony, knowing in their hearts how wonderful it was to be together again as a class for the final time.
     Congratulations to the Class of 2020. It was well worth the wait. Go forward and do great things . . . and always remember your roots and your many and varied experiences at G-D, preparing you for life's adventures and the journey that lies ahead.
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