On the morning of Saturday, June 27, the 48 graduating seniors at Wakefield School in The Plains made their way up from the school’s gym to an improvised commencement ceremony site in one of the parking lots on campus. In addition to the fancy southern attire that is a hallmark of Wakefield formal events, each student was wearing a mask emblazoned with the school’s logo.

Their families waved from their parked cars as the graduates took their seats in chairs spaced six feet apart. School administrators and the class’s top students addressed the gathering from a stage on a small hill above the parking lot. Later, each student walked individually across the stage to receive their diploma.

This year’s commencement was especially poignant, as it was supposed to include 49 graduates. Maximillian Schaefer died last year; he attended Wakefield for 13 years and was to graduate with the class of 2020. “A hallmark of one’s interaction with Max was to feel welcomed, inspired and intellectually challenged,” said a tribute to Schaefer printed in the commencement program.

Gray Carr Bridges, Wakefield’s director of admissions, said that the ceremony went well. “Saturday’s commencement … was a lovely event given the current restrictions. The seniors were thrilled to come together in a distance format to celebrate the culmination of their high school career,” she said after the event.

Reach Coy Ferrell at cferrell@fauquier.com

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