Margaret Santana P ’22, ’24 and Kevin Schmidt ’98 join the Board as they assume leadership of the PSPA and PAA, respectively.
Sunday, June 7—Pingry's 159th Commencement Exercises—was a graduation experience unlike any other in the School's history. Not only was it not able to take place on campus, in person, due to the global pandemic, it occurred against a backdrop of civil and racial unrest the likes of which the school—and nation—have not experienced since the 1960s.
In this historic, galvanizing moment in time, 138 of Pingry's newest alumni—headed to 71 different colleges and universities across the United States and abroad—were celebrated virtually. In a poignant and, at times, comedic presentation, seniors and their families, faculty, and staff tuned in to view a YouTube video marking the very special, very unique, occasion.
Among the highlights of the video were individual cap-and-gown photos of nearly every member of the Class of 2020, taken during a socially-distanced photo shoot on campus just a few weeks earlier. Board of Trustees Chair Jeff Edwards '78, P '12, '14, '18, Head of School Matt Levinson P '21, and Special Assistant to the Head of School Miller Bugliari '52 also offered brief remarks, as did Class President Brian Li '20 and Senior Class President Burke Pagano '20. After paying tribute to the 19 seniors who entered Pingry in Kindergarten and are now members of the "Thirteen Year Club," Mr. Levinson presented Burke with the Magistri Laudandi Award, for being the student who champions the greater good and cares the most about helping all succeed. Alexandra Weber '20 received The Class of 1902 Emblem Award, for having the greatest amount of school spirit. Closing the online celebration was a touching message from members of the faculty and staff.
While the "event" was truly unique and spirited, thanks to the heroic efforts of Upper School Director Ananya Chatterji P '25 and the many faculty and administrators who contributed to its planning, it was merely a prelude.
"To me, a virtual ceremony is not a ceremony at all. It is a celebration. In order to honor the graduates, their journeys, and their accomplishments, I feel that a graduation ceremony is crucial," explains Ms. Chatterji. "Given the hand we were dealt, we moved to celebrating them through a video. It was a shift in thinking—and while I struggled with it at first, because I wanted to honor them—there was joy in reframing what we were hoping to accomplish. In planning this celebratory video, we had fun! And I hope that we were able to bring some fun into the seniors' homes. On a day that the seniors wanted to be together as a class, instead they were home with their families. That is special, and that is something they will never forget. We will all keep our fingers crossed that we can gather together soon for a more traditional Commencement ceremony."
View the virtual Commencement video here!
Stay tuned for additional highlights from Commencement 2020 when the real ceremony is able to take place, including this year's recipients of the Cyril and Beatrice Baldwin Pingry Family Citizen of the Year Award as well as the Letter-in-Life Award.
We send the Class of 2020 our warmest, virtual congratulations, and eagerly await one of our three alternate, in-person ceremony dates to extend them in person!