Class of 2021 graduation to take place June 10 on Jackman Field


Malcolm Taylor

Senior Tierney Cunningham picks up her mortar board cap, tassel, gown and sign at Gordon Parks entrance for graduation on June 10. This year, the Class of 2021’s graduation ceremony will take place on Jackman Field at 2:30 p.m.

Krishita Dutta, Arts Co-Editor

For years past, seniors at U-High have graduated under the rainbow-tinted sunbeams that shine through the stained-glass windows and the grand, high ceiling of Rockefeller Chapel. This year, due to pandemic restrictions, the administration has had to adapt graduation. 

The Class of 2021’s graduation ceremony will take place on Jackman Field June 10 at 2:30 p.m. Seniors were notified on May 21 that each could bring up to four guests to the ceremony, who will be seated in a “family pod” six feet apart from another pod. The graduation planning committee has received permission for seniors to social distance only three feet apart rather than six.

According to committee member Eliza Doss, the committee’s main priorities were having as many guests as possible, a proper location, and plans for class speakers and performers. Performers will be violinists Nicolas Worsley and Rohan Shah, and singer Elena Stern. The graduation speaker this year is Priyanka Rupani, a 2006 alumna who has been Lab’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion since 2018.

According to Dean of Students Ana Campos, one of the major obstacles in planning for graduation was the shift in location.

“Our usual graduation takes place in Rockefeller Chapel, but Rockefeller is still not doing large-scale events, and so it just wasn’t an option for us,” Ms. Campos said. “So when the university basically said, ‘You have to think of something other than Rockefeller,’ we immediately turned to Jackman, especially because that’s what we had hoped to do last year for the Class of 2020.”

Coronavirus guidelines increased the number of aspects the graduation committee has had to consider. For example, according to Ms. Campos, social distancing means that the stage for the seniors will need to be much larger. The limit on guests means the event will have to be live-streamed this year for seniors’ families and friends not present to watch.

Eliza has mixed feelings about the plans.

“I definitely wish I was graduating at Rockefeller, but I think like most things this year, I’m used to the changes we have to make due to Covid,” Eliza said. “I’m honestly just happy to have some in-person graduation at all, which is something that last year’s seniors didn’t get.”

Administrators and the graduation committee members have strived to make graduation plans as close to normal as possible this year — ensuring the Class of 2021 gets the special departure from U-High that they deserve. According to committee member Kara Xu, the plans lay out a ceremony as close to regular graduation as possible. 

“I think people are just happy that we will have an in-person graduation, and I think it’ll all work out, so I’m hoping everyone likes the final plans,” Kara said. “It’ll mimic a regular graduation as much as possible, so I really hope people are happy with the final result.”

This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. with new information about the number of guests per senior.