A Most Memorable Commencement

Despite a worldwide pandemic, nine weeks of no on-campus schooling to end the school year, and an actual—not virtual—downpour that delayed the proceedings, the Class of 2020 got what they most wished for last Saturday—a live, lively, (and live-streamed) graduation ceremony.

Because of state-mandated restrictions limiting the size of such gatherings to no more than 50, the school had to come up with creative solutions to maximize the number of attendees.  Ferrying parents between two tents—one set up in front of the high school, the other by the café—the program blended beloved graduation traditions with innovative technological twists.  The Class of 2020 entered individually as usual to music that they had specially selected for the occasion; however, all but the one of the excerpts were pre-recorded.  Then, as Pedagogical Chair David Eichler noted in his welcoming remarks, “Instead of a graduation speaker, we have seventeen.”

For the first time in the high school’s eleven years of commencement ceremonies, no speaker from outside the community addressed the Class of 2020.  Instead, each of the graduating seniors spoke warmly, and sometimes humorously, about some aspect of their Merriconeag/Maine Coast experiences. The faculty carried on its custom of introducing each student individually, but again, because of constraints, pre-recorded their remarks, which were projected on screens in both tents.  As ever, esteemed music teachers Nancy Roderick and Katy Stetson provided processional and recessional music.  Graduating seniors Brenna Moore and Ava Teegarden played a violin duet during one of the transitions, and Miles Lloyd and Adams Staples sang Flora Cash’s “Somebody Else” during another transition.

During and after the ceremony, graduates and their parents expressed gratitude to the many people who were involved for weeks leading up to Commencement, striving to balance the class’ fervent wish to have the event live, with health and safety considerations: members of the Board of Trustees, especially outgoing President Susan Stark, members of the administrative staff, notably Melissa Watson and David Eichler, faculty members of the Graduation Committee—Louanne Robinson, David Barham, Ellen Labbe, David Sloan, and John Reinhart; and our two tech wizards, alumnus Maxime Rumiel and Jared Martin, who managed the complex audio/visual challenges with aplomb.  We thank Kevin Morris for his photography. Rose Mary Burwell, Susan Sonntag, Mary Martin, Brian Kessler and Jim Bly also all had a hand in preparations for the ceremony, as well as a host of parents who contributed helpful ideas, support and generous gifts for seniors and faculty.

To the now graduated Class of 2020, our wish for you is that you each pursue your dreams with passion and purpose.  We also hope that you will continue your connection to Maine Coast Waldorf School for decades to come.