On John Pingry's 202nd birthday, please consider giving and help to unlock the School's largest challenge grant!
In a ceremony as unique as the circumstances surrounding it, Pingry's 159th Commencement Exercises were held outdoors yesterday evening—the first time in 20 years—with proud graduates from the Class of 2020 and their families wearing masks and seated at chairs, six feet apart.
It was an eagerly awaited, in-person event, following the virtual celebration that took place on June 7. On Parsons Field, a sultry August sun emerged after a cloudy afternoon, and graduates and their families gathered safely with administrators and a few teachers. In compliance with Governor Murphy's restrictions, only two guests per graduate were permitted, and the full processional of faculty did not participate. While it was not Pingry's traditional Commencement ceremony, held every June in a much cooler Hauser Auditorium, it was every bit as festive and momentous.
Middle and Upper School Music Teacher Jay Winston opened the ceremony by singing the National Anthem, followed by Miller Bugliari '52, P '86, '90, '97, GP '20, who gave the Invocation. Senior Class President Burke Pagano '20 and Valedictorian and Class President Brian Li '20 then gave remarks, along with Board Chair Jeff Edwards '78, P '12, '14, '18 and Head of School Matt Levinson. With loads of smiles—but no handshakes, alas—Upper School Director Ananya Chatterji P '25 and Mr. Levinson presented the diplomas.
Graduates and families cheered at the ceremony's close, but did not linger. In the interest of safety and social distancing guidelines, the traditional post-ceremony reception did not take place this year.
Below, a few highlights from the evening's speakers, and a slideshow!
"The last few months of our senior year have been nothing short of imperfect. But how will we define it? Will this be a lost year or a spark for hope? So much has been taken away, but so much more comes from the energy that has built up over these months. . . Twenty years from now, I am confident that the Class of 2020 will be better remembered for what we created and built rather than what we lost."—Brian Li '20
"Be appreciative for the life you have and give thanks to important people in your life. I learned this as I sat in my room during April. I paused and reflected on the good health of my family and friends and not about the cancellation of Prom. If you focus on the good in your life it will make you so much happier. Joy is everywhere, sometimes you just have to look for it."—Burke Pagano '20
"You're about to commence. You're about to begin a new community, where you're going to go off to college and create new connections and find your voice, in community. And you're also going to take the Honor Code with you, and a commitment to the common good. And I am confident that you all will be agents of change in your communities, and don't wait. . . you may see something that is an inequity. . . and I would encourage you to use your voice, it is powerful, and you can have an impact right away."—Matt Levinson, Head of School
"And, you now head to college at another such pivotal point in our history. Part of every citizen's mission is to help this country take the next step forward in its drive to form a more perfect union. This will not be easy; if it was easy it would have already been accomplished. So, what will your contribution be? The current national debate is highly polarized and divisive. Looking back at the summer of 1967, the driving force for change, the reason that change succeeded, was a powerful and inclusive message: An exquisite vision of equality shared by all. This message was deeply influential, formative in fact, foundational to my generation. It is my hope, that you can also be a voice for unification."—Jeffrey Edwards '78, P '12, '14, '18, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Congratulations, Class of 2020!
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org