"The format may be different, but the sentiment remains the same," said a May 8 letter to students and parents from Cassin Bertke, Highland School's assistant head of school and upper school director. Due to the pandemic, a traditional graduation ceremony was not feasible this year.

Instead, Highland graduating seniors and their families were celebrated one-by-one on Friday in the school's Rice Theater, similar to the format used last month by the county’s public high schools. There are 48 students in Highland's class of 2020, 44 of whom were able to walk across the stage on Friday. (Four exchange students from China had already returned home.)

The seniors and their families arrived at the school at an assigned time and were greeted by staff - wearing Highland-branded face masks, of course - in staging areas outside the school. Photographers and a videographer were on hand to record the occasion.

During each ceremony, the student made their way down the theater stairs as their family watched from the seats. After receiving their diploma and posing for a photograph, they were ushered outside the theater where a banner reading "Welcome, Highland alumni" greeted them.

“It was sad not to be able to have the class together for the celebration, but it did allow for a more personal experience,” Bertke said afterward. “I appreciated everyone’s flexibility and cheerful spirit. It wasn’t the ceremony anyone expected, but I’m sure it’s one no one will forget!”

An in-person gathering for the Highland class of 2020 is planned for December.

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