CSW Celebrates the Class of 2020!
Schools across the country had to get creative with their graduations this year, and CSW was no exception. With strict restrictions on group gatherings in Massachusetts still in place for June, school administrators found themselves faced with a difficult decision: hold a heavily modified in-person celebration or conduct the entire program virtually? With the majority of boarding students (both international and domestic) having already returned home, administrators decided quickly that an in-person gathering would not be possible. A ceremony accessible to some, but not all of the Class of 2020, would run counter to the school’s values of equity and inclusion.
In late May, speakers elected by the Class of 2020 returned to campus to have their speeches pre-recorded, and a team of staff got started working on a special graduation video, to premiere at 9 a.m. EST on Friday, June 12. In an effort to provide students and families with the experience of watching the ceremony together, administrators also hosted a special Zoom “Watch Party,” for graduating seniors and CSW faculty and staff. This allowed students to watch the pre-recorded ceremony on a split-screen, while also seeing each other’s faces and engaging with one another using the chat functionality in Zoom.
The video began with images from campus, followed by a “processional” consisting of candid photos of members of the Class of 2020, with music faculty members Gustavo Brasil and Michael Weinstein providing the music. After moving speeches from Head of School Lise Charlier, Board Chair Ann Gorson, History Teacher Ryan Jacobs, Visual Arts Teacher Tom Evans, and students Lev Goldman ’20 and Ruby Russell ’20, the video transitioned to the conferral of diplomas.
In keeping with tradition, graduates were able to choose a select number of faculty and staff to confer their diplomas. Each of these 10 faculty members was pre-recorded saying each student’s names. After each faculty member was shown calling a student’s name, the video would show the student’s senior portrait, along with a special, personalized addition this year — a contemporary Haiku or Senryu about the graduate written by that student’s advisor. At the same time, Zoom Watch Party coordinators simultaneously cut to a live shot of the student in their home with their family, making for a surprisingly intimate and moving viewing experience.
Plans are underway for an on-campus, in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 on June 10, 2021. CSW community members can watch the full 2020 graduation recording at www.csw.org/graduation.