Seniors participate in alternative ‘graduation’

WEB EXCLUSIVE In order to follow the guidelines of the Department of Public Health, Convent held both virtual and individual in-person ceremonies for the Class of 2020.

The individual diploma conferrels took place on campus and followed the contactless and appropriate distancing public health guidelines. The school invited every family of the graduating class to come to school for their individual graduation ceremony over the course of five days, according to Head of School Rachel Simpson.

“We wanted to create a moment for each student and her sheltering-in-place family that was intimate and meaningful but followed proper procedures,” Simpson said. “To prevent intermingling we staggered arrivals and departures of the families which is why it took five whole days to see every family.”

During the individual ceremonies, a videographer and photographers captured images of the girls receiving their diplomas. A video edited wove together the footage of the graduates for a virtual webinar ceremony that displayed the receiving in one continuous video.

The webinar also included speeches by honored members of the senior class such as the Salutatorians and the Valedictorian, some even delivering the speech via Zoom from the Mother Williams Library. The most special part of presenting her Salutatorian speech was being able to deliver it from a place she had so many of her valued Convent memories, according to Gabriella Vulakh.

“When I stepped into the library I remembered the smell of the books, the touch of the marble walls and the beautiful view from the bay windows,” Vulakh said. “Being within the walls of where I grew up, where I called my home for these past four years, made it extremely meaningful to be able to present my final thank yous in that same space.”

For the seniors, their diploma conferrals were their last time on-campus as students. Going to the school with so few people on campus was odd, according to Valedictorian Arianna Nassiri.

“What’s so special about school isn’t the building itself but the people in it. I walked by classrooms of teachers I spent a lot of time with and the places I used to sit and work, but no one was there.” Nassiri said. “I know I will be coming back to campus, but it’s odd to think that different students will be sitting in those spots. I hope they find as much joy in it as I did.”

While the girls were not able to see each other for a final time in person before graduating, this version of a graduation ceremony allowed something else special to happen according to Simpson.

“The system this year allowed for each family to have an intimate family moment,” Simpson said. “It was unfortunate that the girls had to miss out on the peer celebration aspect of it, but it did allow families to be much more involved and highlighted.”