Looking to the sky on a paddleboard while wearing his graduation cap and gown, Eli Hinerfeld ends his high school experience with a lively memory.
“I was pretty sad that prom was taken away and that graduation was taken away — just important milestones in my life,” Eli said, “so I wanted to do something a little bit fun, a little bit theatrical, for just the last hurrah.”
Despite virtual graduation, canceled prom and lost connection during social distancing, seniors including Eli took creative graduation photos to document the memory and present at the virtual graduation ceremony on June 11. Without receiving their diplomas at graduation, they had more freedom in taking their photos and being thoughtful with choosing the setting.
Eli took his graduation photo on Powers Lake in Genoa, Wisconsin, where his family stays for part of each week to quarantine.
“I think that times can get really tough during this and we are really fortunate and privileged enough to have the opportunity to go out to a beautiful place and enjoy it,” Eli said. “I guess finding anything that’s beautiful in this time is really important.”
Alex Witkowska also recognized the importance of remembering her high school experience. For her graduation photo, Alex decided to stand in front of the Blaine Hall steps.
“Blaine is kind of the most iconic part of the building or part of the school — architecturally and that’s where I first went to school as a lower schooler.”
Along with her graduation photo, Alex also took photos with her family and senior Roisin Gilbert.
“The photos, ones with Roisin at least, are really unique because you can see the masks and you can see how awkwardly far apart we are,” Alex said. “Looking back at them in the future, we’ll definitely be able to tell ‘Oh yeah that was 2020, the year of coronavirus.’”
Although the photos document important memories, Eli said that they cannot substitute for an in-person graduation ceremony.
“The experience wasn’t as joyous as it should have been if none of this was happening,” he said. “It would have been an experience of a great sense of community and everyone coming together and one final giant gathering with each other, and it would have been kind of a magical experience. When you have to bring it down to a single picture of you being happy, it does kind of suck.”
Eli Ginsburg decided to include his dog in his graduation photo to recognize his importance during Eli’s journey through high school.
“He’s just very peaceful,” he said. “He helps me calm down sometimes and get less stress when I have a big test or lots of homework.”
Keeping his mind on a possible in-person ceremony in the future, Eli Hinerfeld said, “I’m really glad the school is doing everything they can to facilitate graduation, and hopefully my grade gets another chance to be all together in the same room and celebrate each other.”