Virtual graduation ceremony recognizes 152 graduates


Screengrab from ceremony

The Class of 2020 graduation ceremony was prerecorded and released live.

Grace Holleb, Reporter

Families gathered around laptop screens to watch a prerecorded virtual graduation ceremony to commemorate U-High’s class of 2020 that went live on June 11. Although untraditional, “Pomp and Circumstance” softly played in the background, serving as a substitute for the important rite of passage seniors go through. 

A drive-through diploma presentation will take place on June 25 from 3:30-7 p.m. outside of Rockefeller Chapel. Interested seniors can be accompanied by family and pick up their diplomas in person. 

In addition, an in-person ceremony will be held Nov. 25 inside Rockefeller Chapel. Due to restrictions, the ceremony is scheduled without an audience, but if regulations are relaxed and an audience is permitted, the event will be arranged in the safest way possible. Seniors will be able to walk down Rockefeller chancel as they are celebrated by peers, and a few student performances will be selected.  

At the virtual graduation, speakers included Interim Director David Magill, who gave the welcome address and proclamation, followed by All-School President Ben Cifu, class speaker Leland Culver, Class President Donna Tong and Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, a 1990 alumnus who also gave the graduation speech in 2017. 

Screengrab from ceremony

Ben touched on the unfortunate circumstances of the coronavirus but commended his grade’s unwavering resiliency. 

“Thank you to each and every one of you for your compassion,” Ben said. “That kindness and respect is what makes Lab special. It is why I’m grateful to have spent so many years here. Without it, none of us would be who we are, or would have been able to do the incredible things we have or will do.” 

Leland explained his fears for the future, but his constant confidence in the relationships and friends he has made at Lab. 

“It’s the people that have stood by me, who have inexplicably changed with me, who make me fear the change most of all,” Leland said. “But good or bad, we haven’t been alone, have we? I know I haven’t been alone.” 

Donna described the astonishing acts done by the Class of 2020 in regard to the prom fundraiser. It had never been done before, but 90% of class members each donated at least $10 each to the Alumni Relations 2020 Scholarship Fund and in return parents donated $4,000 to the prom committee. 

“Of course, we blasted through that 90% participation mark. Our grade has always been extraordinary like that,” Donna said. “And although I can’t say I’m best friends with all of you, I can say with absolute certainty that every single one of you inspires me.”

Seniors Marissa McGee and Destiny Strange introduced Dr. Wesley. They acknowledged the importance of finding your true passion and the endless possibilities life has to offer.

Your vision, your dreams, your passion, your ethic, your moral, your belief will shape the world that awaits us.”

— Rev. Howard-John Wesley

 Dr. Wesley explained the significance of flexibility, gratitude, ambition, and selflessness. He addressed how much power the class of 2020 has, and how they must use this to change the future.  

“What I do know is that the world that awaits us is a world that has been placed in your hards,” Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley said. “Your vision, your dreams, your passion, your ethic, your moral, your belief will shape the world that awaits us.” 

Seniors could submit a photo and 10-second video of themselves in cap and gown along with a short statement for the ceremony. That video was shown as their name was announced. Each one of the 152 seniors were recognized during the procession of graduates. 

The entire graduation ceremony is available on YouTube Premium.