Over the course of two days last month, seniors picked up their diplomas, at scheduled times, outside Ardsley High School.
Recordings were made of the students receiving their diplomas from Schools Superintendent Ryan Schoenfeld, and then shifting their tassels from right to left. The clips were edited into a video posted online.
The graduates were also photographed at three different stations. The final station featured an oversized 2020. For the photo, the graduates were invited to jump up in front of the numbers. Some went airborne while others remained grounded.
Those who opted for liftoff exuded an infectious exuberance, as illustrated by photos in the graduation section inserted into this week’s issue of the Enterprise. One photo is of salutatorian Matthew Casey, whose speech was recorded for the commencement video.
In his address, Casey referred to the “youthful enthusiasm” that filled him and his classmates during their first year of high school.
“Time flew by and we got to experience many pep rallies, homecomings, and the yearly battle of the grades,” Casey said. “Somehow, we made it to senior year, which Mr. Petrone once frustratingly described as a ‘yearlong celebration of graduating — before you’ve even graduated.’”
For the Class of 2020 at Ardsley, and at high schools and colleges throughout the country, that celebration was interrupted in March, as the spread of Covid-19 caused schools to shutter and learning to shift from classrooms to computer screens.
Seniors spent their final three months away from their classmates, and teachers, and schools. Extracurricular activities were cancelled. So were proms and other special events. The celebration seemed to succumb to uncertainty.
The celebration then resumed in a series of events. Congratulatory signs were placed outside seniors’ homes. The students, in their cars, caravanned through their communities as their neighbors cheered. The celebration culminated with commencement events that were not normal, but also better than the norm.
In the end, the graduates had reasons to smile and to jump. In the absence of a vaccine, their enthusiasm was a welcome dose of inspiration.
“As you continue your journey in life, it's very likely that things won’t turn out exactly how you expect them to,” Casey stated in his speech. “And that’s OK, that’s the nature of life.”