GNN: Community Celebrates Class of 2020

Gator Nation News

Upper School Head Joshua Neudel spearheaded a special parade yesterday to honor the Class of 2020, in lieu of a traditional commencement ceremony—the 140th in School history.

For the first time since campus closed a day before letting out for March break, teachers and administrators—standing at least 6-feet apart—all gathered to applaud seniors, who, while remaining inside their vehicles, drove to different stations to receive gifts and diplomas. Cars, many decorated with celebratory signs, drove down Middlesex Road to McCoy Hall, where professional photographer David Barron was on hand to take graduation photos with immediate family members.

With COVID-19, the School could not host a traditional commencement ceremony. Several weeks into online learning, Anja Westhues ’20 wrote a guest column, expressing apprehension about the possible cancellation of graduation.

“While this pandemic has affected everyone, it has had a notable impact on this year’s senior class. Being a 12th grader myself, I am disappointed about the lack of a true ‘senior spring’ and the fun events that come along with it. I, along with many of my classmates, am worried about the possibility of the cancellation of prom, senior project, and most significantly, graduation.”

Westhues, along with other seniors, could be seen waving to teachers and administrators, expressing gratitude and love.

Science teacher Chris Hardman provided aerial footage of the event, featured in the first few minutes of the above video. From atop the Hastings Center, The Gator live streamed the event.

To also celebrate the seniors, earlier this spring, Neudel organized for teachers to visit seniors at their homes to deliver congratulations signs. The School created a video, also included above, to commemorate the Class of 2020.