Hill community prepares for commencement at the end of May


Media: Erick Sun '24

On Commencement Day, Hill sixth formers will walk across the brick on the Quadrangle.

As the 2021-22 school year comes to an end, the Hill community is continuing to plan for commencement. On May 28, the sixth form class will take part in the ceremony along with many other events leading up to this special day. Over the past few years, however, the format of graduation has varied due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2019, commencement took place in a tent on Dell Field. All of the normal traditions took place, including the Sixth Form Dance, Alumni Induction Brunch, Legacy Tea, Class Day Gala Dinner, Class Day Gala Awards, Sixth Form Baccalaureate and the traditional jump into the Dell. 

With the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, the administration had to make adjustments to the format of graduation in 2020. The sixth formers were sent a box of items representing commencement, including tea cups for Sixth Form Tea, toppings for their ice cream sundaes, a Sixth Form blazer and pin, and a scarf or tie for the Alumni Induction Brunch. In the last week of school, the faculty and staff offered some of Hill’s signature spring events virtually, such as College T-Shirt Day, the Dial Dedication, Sixth Form Tea, and the Alumni Induction Brunch. At the end of May, there was a car parade for the sixth form class, as the Quad was lined with posters of each sixth form student. The jump into the Dell took place in 2021, the following year. 

In spring 2021, the commencement ceremony was held in-person on the Quad. “Although it was able to take place outside, it rained and we did not have tents prepared,” Shelley Baumgarten, director of alumni and parent engagement, said. 

To compensate for the weather, the students were all given Hill ponchos. Sixth formers, immediate family and speakers were permitted to attend graduation. The ceremony was livestreamed for extended family and underformers. In order to make graduation as safe as possible, the administration decided to send underformers home a few days early, and sixth formers were able to spend the last few days together doing fun, commencement-related activities. 

This year, the administration is planning to tent the Quad from the Athey Academic Center to Hunt Upper School. The students will march into the tent and walk down the Alumni Walk. They are permitted to bring an unlimited number of guests, as there will be overflow seating on either side of the tent and two large TV screens to display the ceremony. 

All of the traditions previously discussed will take place, and fifth and sixth formers are permitted to attend the Sixth Form Dance this year. “I am really excited to do special activities as an entire form, like our last Chapel, the Sixth Form Dinner, and the Sixth Form Dance,” SGA Co-President  Sarah Jiang ’22 said. 

“I am looking forward to the last laughs that we will have together as a form at graduation. While it may be sad that we are all departing, we all know that we are going to embark on our next journeys beyond Hill,” SGA Co-President Noah Toole ’22 said.  

As of May 19, graduation was still planned to be held on the Quad. The construction of the new football stadium may allow for it to happen there in future years, but the administration does not know for sure. “I love the symbolism of having the students walk across the bricks on the Quad at commencement,” Baumgarten said.