Written by Adam Drizen ’20, BVR marketing intern.
To say that this year’s commencement was unusual would be an understatement. From the jumbotron screen towering over the parking lot to 82 students standing through their sunroofs, the class of 2020’s graduation ceremony was extraordinary.
On April 21, when Governor Baker closed all schools for the rest of the year, the thought going through everyone’s mind was if we were going to have an in-person commencement. The seniors were nervous they weren’t going to have the opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. Luckily we had a leader who would stop at nothing to develop a live graduation that was authentic, meaningful, and safe. Mr. Hutton was able to adapt quickly to the circumstances and create one of the most abstract graduation ceremonies, probably ever. In a video update he sent to the Beaver community, he stated, “Here’s how it’s going to go: We are going to have one car per family pull into the Beaver parking lot facing a large jumbotron screen. Kids will be called up in small groups, and I will read my comment for each student.” With this unconventional alternative graduation and 2020 being Mr. Hutton’s final year as head of school, we were making Beaver History.
June 7 quickly approached. Students became excited when receiving their cap, gowns, diplomas, and commencement kits. Cars began lining up on Hammond Street at 12:30 p.m. for a 2 p.m. start time. It was as if a third lane of traffic was formed. Slowly cars began making their way into the Beaver parking lot. A team of people directed each family to a specific location, ensuring everyone could see the jumbotron. Music began playing, and the class of 2020 started to cheer and dance from their sunroofs. It was as if we never left. The ceremony started regularly with the Board President, Tomas Bergstrand P’19, ’21, giving his opening remarks. Following this, the Upper School President, Sumaya Ibrahim ’20, delivered an exceptional speech, reflecting on her seven years at Beaver. After hearing a fantastic cover of Seasons of Love sung by the Beaver cast of Rent, it was time to present the diplomas. Each student had the opportunity to walk across the stage and listen to the kind words Mr. Hutton had to say about them. As if commencement wasn’t already a huge success, the Beaver faculty surprised seniors with a goodbye parade. They lined up across Woodland Road and waved goodbye as families exited the parking lot. Although this graduation ceremony was unlike any other, it was an unforgettable experience for all involved. (Click here to watch.)
Here is what some members of the class of 2020 said about commencement:
“I think they did a really great job of making graduation as ‘normal’ as possible. Pulling into the parking lot felt really exciting being able to see friends and classmates we hadn’t all spring! Seeing all the teachers cheering us on as we left commencement was the perfect closure to our unique ending of our times at Beaver!” – Samantha Shapiro ’20
“Graduation was both well-run and innovative. It was super cool to see everyone even though in their cars. There was energy and enthusiasm throughout the parking lot!” – Brett Siegal ’20
“When I realized the normal commencement ceremony was not going to be like the years previous I was a little disappointed. However, driving up with my family on commencement day, being able to see everyone’s faces, and celebrating in person made it better than I anticipated. The sense of love and community was truly highlighted and it made it a day I will never forget.” – Neena Val ’20