June 22, 2020

Dear Class of 2020 Families,
We are immersed in an unprecedented time, and we are preparing for an unprecedented Columbus Academy Commencement for this year's graduates. As we continue our planning for this special day, I want to provide the information we can, although -- as we've witnessed -- a lot can change in a month's time.

The July 25 event will be outside and, short of a torrential downpour or thunderstorm, it will begin at 9:00 a.m. on our Hondros Field. Should the weather prove intemperate at 9:00 a.m., the start of Commencement may shift to later in the morning, early afternoon or late afternoon. We ask for your flexibility with the start time. We also ask that only immediate family plan to attend, and please know that face masks and social distancing will be expected. The school has arranged for the ceremony to be broadcast via Instagram TV for live, extended-family viewing. A Commencement DVD will also be available for all graduates.

We are thrilled to announce that this year's guest speaker will be Dr. David Hamlar Jr. '73, an Academy alumnus who has been a teaching physician at the University of Minnesota for the past 25 years and retired as a Major General from the Minnesota Air National Guard in 2017 following a highly decorated military service career. Some of the honors he has earned are Minneapolis Rotary Citizen of the Year (2005) and Service Above Self Award (2007), State of Minnesota Distinguished Service Award (2007), Air National Guard Flight Surgeon of the Year (2008), National Guard Black Engineer of the Year (2015) and The Ohio State University Alumni Association's Archie Griffin Professional Achievement Award (2018). David was profiled in our school magazine for his humanitarian work in the summer of 2007, and his sister Deidre Hamlar served as Columbus Academy's diversity director from 2005-12.

In the past, it has been the school's practice at Commencement to designate seats for seniors, faculty, trustees, underclassmen and chorus singers, but otherwise to use an "open seating" approach for family members of the graduates and any guests. Open seating is not an option this year, and -- should current health restrictions remain in place -- it is likely that seating will be prescribed. Underclassmen, including band, orchestra and chorus singers, will not be expected to attend the ceremony. We ask for your patience as the landscape changes regularly, and we expect the week of Commencement to shed a great deal of light on what that Saturday may be. Should you or your immediate family member(s) require handicapped seating, please contact Executive Assistant to the Head of School Shannon Nelson ( nelsons@columbusacademy.org ) to coordinate this effort.

All of this is to say that Commencement is a great recognition for each senior and for this community. Our seniors have made it clear that they wish to be together to share this experience: to hear their own name and the names of their classmates read aloud and to walk to the stage to receive their diploma. The faculty and staff wish to celebrate the seniors' launch into new adventures, as well.
On behalf of the seniors and the faculty, I thank you in advance for your attention to making Commencement Day an enjoyable celebration for all.

Head of School
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