As April comes to a close, I want to take this time to let you know about some decisions the School has made regarding end-of-the-year events. As you may know, our school year typically concludes with three major school events: an Academic Awards ceremony, Senior Service, and of course, Commencement.
The Administration has evaluated different scenarios as to how we can best deliver these events in a meaningful way for all of our students and families, while still ensuring the safety and well-being of the entire community. We cannot be sure at this time whether state or regional authorities will allow public gatherings by the end of the month, and many of our students simply cannot be here in any case.
After much deliberation, and in light of Governor Cuomo's order that New York schools are to be closed for the remainder of the school year, we have thus determined that all three events will be done in full as virtual programs.
As we move ahead in planning these events, we must begin our preparations now so that we can deliver them in a timely manner. Mr. Lewis, Dr. Lance, Mr. Kiperman, and others will be reaching out to students and faculty instructing them on what to do next.
Those who may be contributing musical elements, senior speeches, and other items for these pre-produced events will be asked to follow some specific parameters while recording their contributions. Our goal is to release a video of each ceremony online while staying true to the date and time each event was originally scheduled for on our school calendar.
We realize that many of you are upset by the idea that we will not hold these events in person, especially Senior Service and graduation. Of course, so are we. For everyone, graduating from high school is a rite of passage. Here are some things I would like you to think about:
- Seniors are graduating and we are recognizing this important moment together as a community through tradition, ceremony, and ritual. The rite of passage is happening.
- This year’s commencement will be unique and memorable in different and positive ways that will stay with you for the rest of your lives.
- All of your work and all of your experiences from the past four years remain genuine; they provide the basis for your next steps toward college and life; they are no less real just because we won’t be holding graduation in person.
- After graduation, you will be an SKS alumnus/a. Those of us who have visited their high school or college as alumni know that their return is always a special event. For all of you, your return to campus in the future will be even more meaningful because of the events that occurred this spring.
You can also be assured that in the weeks, months, and even years ahead, Storm King will continue to look for more ways to celebrate the Class of 2020. For example, when the campus re-opens, we would gladly welcome any member of the class back to receive their diploma by the Bell Tower. When social gatherings become acceptable once again, we will happily work with the class to organize a gathering during one of the School’s calendar events such as a homecoming weekend in the fall, or another specific date that makes sense for all of you.
Remember, the Class of 2020 is special for many, many reasons. On the long and sweeping path of your lives, the reality of the Coronavirus will become just one more reason we celebrate your success.
Last week, we recognized the talent of our student-artists at our first Virtual Student Art Show which kicked off our annual Arts Weekend. Other online events will be revealed over the next several weeks including a Dance Recital, Music Recital, the 4th Annual Poetry Festival, and a virtual review of our spring musical
In addition, Dr. Feffer and Dr. Lance will be reaching out in the next few days about a group of virtual Q-Term classes the School will be offering to interested students. These ‘mini-Q-Terms’ will take place on June 1-3, and include topics that will run from a half-day to three days. Courses will cover academic subjects as well as more informal ones like ‘Pizza-making’ or ‘Fireplace Relaxation.’ These courses are not required, but an earlier survey of students showed quite a bit of interest.
Today is May 1– a day that not only marks National College Commitment Day, but also the last push toward the end for our seniors and for all of our students. It is normally the time of year when the mix of spring weather and the promise of the end of school make motivation more difficult. Usually, we would be reminding students of things like being in dress code, putting away their phones, and overall, leaving Storm King a better than they found it.
This year, while the first two items are no longer relevant, the third one seems even more important given the circumstances. Although we have already left physically, there is still so much to celebrate and so many things to do together before you go.
As always, I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy wherever in the world you might be.