Head Reflections: A Memorable Bicentennial Commencement

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We had an unusual and incredibly enjoyable experience recently. After a 14-month hiatus, we opened our campus to the family of graduates for our first and last public event of the school year, and what an event it was! It was a surreal ending to a year that was otherwise spent in our “bubble”, doing all we could to protect and support a full experience for our students.

 

An unexpected extra

The silver lining to the end of this year was the opportunity to invite senior day students to live on campus with their boarding counterparts for a true “Senior Week”, while all others had vacated campus. One last week of togetherness and special events; Seniors versus faculty softball, coed lacrosse game, senior formal, Echo Lake trip, a night at the movies, four-year senior lunch, and other events took place without the interference of schoolwork. A special ending, for this special Bicentennial Class of 2021 felt good to witness and participate in.

Commencement is always an emotional event, for students, parents, and faculty. This year, while we were not able to have full attendance, carried with it heightened significance. It was a celebration of success for everyone in the community, perseverance through extraordinary conditions, and a rare opportunity to feel like COVID-19 didn’t exist. Attendees laughed, cried, and reflected in important ways, feeling safe to finally let their emotions come out in recognition of the significance of the journey traveled together.

 

Learning from bubble life

Being together in our “bubble” was not easy, but as an optimist, I can’t help but acknowledge the positives. These seniors had a year of shared experiences like no other group in recent years. They learned more about each other by virtue of forced time on campus and gained a heightened awareness of the importance of mutual support and trust. Our students took care of each other and matured in their personal responsibility to the community.

As the Class of 2021 recessed from commencement, ran the gauntlet of the faculty receiving line, gathered together for finals hugs, pictures, and teary goodbyes, they displayed a deep appreciation for the good fortune they had to be a Husky. In the end, that is what working with young people is all about, those special moments when it seems to all sink in and graduates demonstrate their appreciation for New Hampton School and readiness for the opportunities that lie ahead.

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