Saturday, June 6
Magical. Surreal. Spellbinding. Heartwarming. Misty-eyed. Happy. Relieved...
Words...they fall short of the mark sometimes, capturing moments that are dripping with emotion. On a crisp, sun-filled, at times windblown Sunday morning, I stood on top of the podium, some 15 feet in the air, and waited. Waiting for my seniors to arrive at their graduation. And then in the vast bowl-shaped space, silent, with some 70 plus orange and white squares painted on the ground, patiently waiting to house their guests, the silence was pierced by the wailing of multiple sirens. The procession of seniors, with their families, in creatively decorated cars had arrived at the main entrance of the Solebury campus. I could hear them. I could not see them. It seemed like an eternity and then, there, peeking through the trees I saw the fire engine...and then...my seniors. Car by car inched along, stopping to pick up some flowers, proceeding around a stand of trees and now fully visible, directed by our maintenance team, one by one, row by row, filling the boxes in front of me. Once parked, the occupants spilled out of their cars, socially distancing all the while, and set up their chairs and blankets on the passenger side to revel in Graduation 2020—COVID style, waving and yelling and laughing and crying tears of joy. After months of discussion and failed ideas and false starts due to obstacles that reared...Solebury School was going to graduate our Seniors, in person, on campus, differently than we had ever done the previous 92 years.
The rainbow of emotions that coursed through me was captured by all those words and many more. I was so happy for the seniors and their parents. They had lost so many memories and moments to this virus. I was so proud of the Solebury community for pulling off this idea for graduation. I was so relieved that it all came together—the logistics, the space, the sightlines, the audio, the video, the elevated podium, the weather. Had any one of those elements failed, it could have been disastrous. The nature of this graduation was such that we could not do what we always do—make a thorough all-encompassing full rehearsal. Pieces and parts went through a dry run but we couldn’t put it all together—we had just one chance—the graduation ceremony itself.
The ceremony: magical, joyous, happy, thoughtful, sentimental...and then...it was over. I remained atop the podium, as one by one, the cars passed me, windows down, waves, along with many thank yous yelled, I waited until the last car was no longer in sight, and then heaved perhaps the largest sigh of relief ever. We had done it. Solebury School had managed to give 64 seniors and their families a crowning moment to a senior year horribly disrupted by a pandemic. They have a lasting memory, one unique to them, one for only them, one they can revisit over and over.
Congratulations to newest alumni!
(Photos by Stephen Barth and Kelli Abdoney)