Outdoors big enough for Rocky Hill in-person graduation

By LAURA WEICK
Posted 6/26/20

In one of the few local graduations where the grads gathered collectively, 29 students received diplomas from Rocky Hill Country Day School Friday in a socially distanced, ceremony. Every student walked across the outdoor stage on the

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Outdoors big enough for Rocky Hill in-person graduation

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In one of the few local graduations where the grads gathered collectively, 29 students received diplomas from Rocky Hill Country Day School Friday in a socially distanced, ceremony.

Every student walked across the outdoor stage on the school’s lawn to receive their diploma. Students also got to hear personalized written comments from their advisors about their successes. The school also live-streamed the ceremony for family and friends to watch online.

“The seniors have had a journey like no other class before them,”’ Rocky Hill’s Head of School Diane Rich said. “The spring was filled with challenges that our students and faculty overcame thanks to their resilience, creativity and sense of community. We are thrilled to be able to bring the class and their families together on the campus for a modified but in-person celebration. We are fortunate in that we are an intentionally small school with an 84-acre campus which affords us the ability to meet all social distancing requirements while still adding that personal touch our students and families have come to cherish, especially in recent months.”

Although the school was able to hold an in-person ceremony, there were some differences compared to previous years. According to Amadeus Finlay, the school’s communications and media editor, students and their families were grouped in pods of six chairs, with each pod six feet apart from others. Everyone was required to wear a mask, and when Rich read comments regarding each student, she was 10 feet apart from them.

During her speech, Rich reflected on current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. She said that strong, harmonious relationships could have helped people navigate these events, and encouraged the graduating class to consider their own relationships.

“These events call us to recommit ourselves to be in right relationship with one another,”’ Rich said. What does right relationship look like? I think that the foundation of it is best and most simply captured in what many of us know as the golden rule - to love your neighbor as yourself. It finds its place as the guiding principle in nearly all of the world’s religions as well as humanistic belief systems. And the first part of loving our neighbors is to listen to them”

Class President Elsa Block presented the class gift: a fire pit. The fire pit included a cauldron, surrounding hardscape and seating. Block said that she hopes the fire pit becomes a place to hold existing and new traditions for future students.

Student Christoff Bandele gave the class address. He recalled the class’s determination, sense of humor and diversity. Bandele voiced pride towards all of his classmates and their accomplishments.

“I never imagined that I could be at a school for nine years, but when I think back on my experience at Rocky Hill, there’s not a single group of amazing people that I’d rather be with,” Bandele said. “That’s why I know that we’ll find success in the future because I’ve seen each and every one of my classmates exceed their own preconceived potential and do great things here, so there’s no worry about what they’ll be able to do in college. In our class we have actors, doctors, physicists, chemists, veterinarians, musicians, and future businessmen and women who will go on to change the world in their own way. That’s why I’m excited for reunions, to see what these outstanding people will do and how accomplished we all are then.”

Despite social distancing measures, the graduates still participated in many of Rocky Hill’s graduation traditions. Students presented roses to parents, faculty and staff they wanted to recognize in an event called the Rose Ceremony. Students wrote notes on Rose Cards that came with the roses. Graduating students shared a commemorative video they created. Finally, faculty and staff hosted a parade in their vehicles around the school.

Isabella Robinson wears a face mask during her in-person graduation ceremony at Rocky Hill Country Day School.

Families sit in socially-distanced groups set six feet apart from each other during Rocky Hill Country Day School’s graduation ceremony.

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