6th Form Connects For A Virtual Commencement

|| By: Raina Shah ’21 || Spring at Hill is one of the busiest and most anticipated times of the year. From dorm cookouts to J-Ball to, of course, commencement, the season is always busy for underformers and 6th formers alike. With the coronavirus forcing the community to be apart during what is supposed to be the culmination of the year, the missed opportunities weigh on students’ minds. “Senior spring” is anticipated by every graduating class. The absence of the experience this year has been discussed nationwide as social distancing and stay-at-home orders have limited the movements and interactions of nearly everyone. 

At Hill, there was never a question in the administration’s mind as to whether or not they would try to find a way to make up some of the significant events for the sixth formers. The administration approached this dilemma from the start to try to find the best and safest way possible to celebrate the Class of 2020. 

 “Our biggest goal right now is to let the 6th form students have a voice, and really advocate for what they want to see given the circumstances we are facing,” said Chief Strategy Officer Lynda Hamilton-Kirk. 

         Raina Cohen ’20 and a group of her close friends thought that being physically back on campus with everyone would mean the most to her class. There was talk of a virtual graduation, but many 6th formers wanted something more. They explained that they would rather wait and graduate on campus, so they could all be together one last time and make that famous Dell jump. 

Although commencement is the most symbolic of the spring events, there was much more that the 6th formers felt was important to make up. Cohen and many others collaborated to come up with a plan for having one day in the summer, preferably in late July or the beginning of August, where the 6th form could come back to campus for the entire day. There they would have their class Gala and awards ceremony, Baccalaureate, mini Strawberry Festival, Alumni Luncheon, and Commencement followed by a party or dance off-campus.

As soon as the plan was solidified by the small group, it was quickly broadcast to the rest of the Class of 2020 who largely supported the idea. Cohen, Class President Mike Rockovich ’20, and others reached out to collect signatures of, ultimately, around ninety-five percent of the class.

         “It was really nice to see that our form was still so connected even though we are spread out all over the world,” Cohen said.

         This idea was pitched to the administration who acknowledged the wishes of the students. 

         “While we have no choice but to hold many of the signature celebratory events online this May, and we will provide a virtual commencement ceremony on May 23, we remain very confident and enthusiastic about the 6th form returning to campus later in the summer so they can be together, experience this important rite of passage, and jump in the Dell!” said Headmaster Zachary Lehman.  “Given this class’s fortitude and love of Hill, I was not at all surprised that they wanted to dispense with virtual events in favor of celebrating their accomplishments on campus.  We fully support their plan and look forward to seeing them in the near future.  It will surely be the most anticipated and special commencement ceremony in our 169-year history!”  

      The plan is set as long as medical standards are met in order to remain in compliance with federal and state guidelines. In the meantime, an “auto parade” took place on May 16 for those who could come to campus. The Class of 2020 has been challenged in many different aspects of life over these past few unprecedented months, but nothing stopped them from virtually collaborating so that they could be physically back together on Hill’s campus once again.