Although the coronavirus pandemic prevented the MICDS community from honoring our seniors with the usual pomp and circumstance, this spring brought the opportunity to create new and unique events that celebrated the resilient and inspiring Class of 2020.
We celebrated the Class of 2020 during our School’s 161st Commencement— a memorable ceremony held in the beautiful sunshine on O’Hara Field at Ron Holtman Stadium on Sunday, June 14.
Many of the traditional components of the ceremony held true, even in the new environment. Commencement speakers offered words of gratitude, pride, and advice to the Class of 2020. Head of School Jay Rainey encouraged the graduates to give. “Give reasonably, asking questions first and then investing yourself all the more confidently. Give compassionately, putting the needs of others ahead of your own. And give courageously, offering your time and resources even when you think you can’t afford to.”
MICDS Board Chair Michelle Leith Cohen ’88 shared her passion for the MICDS community. “People are and always have been at the heart of the MICDS experience. The deep connection we feel to each other and to our community is awesome and powerful. And connection is what our world needs more than ever.” Alumni Association President McKay Baur Mills ’92 officially welcomed the graduates to the Alumni Association and said, “Life will take you in many different directions, but I encourage you to come back to campus, visit with your teachers, cheer on the Rams at sporting events, and join your classmates to celebrate reunions.”
Commencement also featured two student speakers: peer-elected speaker Jack Bay ’20, and the Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Benjamin Hollander-Bodie ’20. They spoke of these unusual times, and how their classmates persevered and will continue to create a positive impact on the world. Of course, there were several ceremonial changes as well, including embroidered masks for each graduate and socially-distanced seating, diploma distribution, and posed photos.
In addition, several senior traditions occurred virtually, including College Celebration Day in senior advisory Zoom sessions and a video of the Class of 2020’s final walk-through campus narrated with well wishes from faculty and staff. Senior Night was held virtually and featured inspiring remarks from the student-elected faculty speaker, Upper School History Teacher Marshall McCurties, and Class of 2020 Salutatorian Jon Zhang ’20.
The full MICDS community participated in a virtual Spirit Week to honor our seniors during their last week of classes. Faculty, staff, parents, and alumni sent messages of congratulations and hope for the class. The week ended with a Senior Send-off Parade with family members driving graduates down Carpe Diem drive on campus. Seniors popped out sunroofs and windows to wave goodbye to their beloved teachers and staff who were lined up with signs, decorations, and smiles though bittersweet emotions.
MICDS’ newest alumni continue to pursue their passions and grow as critical thinkers, scientists, writers, artists, and athletes at colleges and universities near and far. Matt Essman, Director of College Counseling, said, “The Class of 2020 will attend a variety of wonderful institutions, representative of their wide-ranging talents and interests. We are so proud of all that they have accomplished and are excited to see what great things lie ahead for them.” Celebratory events for the Class of 2020 looked a little different this year, but nothing can “mask” the community’s excitement, hope, pride, and love for these graduates. Congrats, Class of 2020!