A new world calls across the ocean A new world calls across the sky A new world whispers in the shadows Time to fly, time to fly...
With the song “A New World” by Jason Robert Brown, chorus director and first grade teacher Laura White opened our graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 Friday, launching our 11 fifth graders on their journey into “a new world.”
The ceremony took place at dusk at the stage on the playground, with families seated six feet apart on the benches. Marking each family’s place was a portrait of their graduating child drawn by Warren Wallace, who does the illustrations for Susie Kohl’s Wednesday Messages “Parenting From the Heart” column.
After Laura’s song, the graduating fifth graders filed into seats on and next to the stage. Before they were presented, two of them gave speeches describing what the school had meant to them. (One of the others gave a speech midway through the ceremony.)
Next, Co-Principal Vince d’Assis or Ivy Summers read a poem written by one of the fifth grade teachers describing what is special about each student, and the student picked up a large, colorfully decorated gift, then joined their family on the benches. Fifth grade teachers Joseph Schneider and Terry Johnson stood to the side of the stage, placing each graduate’s gift on a pedestal as his or her name was called.
When the last student had received his gift, it was time for the much-anticipated premiere of the film of fifth grade play, a condensed version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which the class had been working on for two months.
The class’s final year at Meher School was “a new world” in its own right – a world of remote, hybrid, and in-person learning, of handwashing and Purell, of facemasks, social distancing, and daily health checks.
COVID cast its shadow over graduation too. Missing were the hug or handshake each graduate traditionally receives from their teachers and the co-principals when they receive their gifts and the tearful good-bye hugs following the ceremony. Many of the students had been together since preschool, and the class had become like a second family to them.
By the time the video ended, it was dark, and for the Class of 2021 it was, in the words of Laura’s song,
Time to fly, time to fly...