A Distant Graduation Brings Students Even Closer


Picture Credit: BBC News: Above is a picture of a distant education graduate; the Irvington Voice correspondent could not get a proper picture due to the blurry nature of the livestream, but has been provided this by the Irvington administration as a valid depiction of the ceremony and its intentions.

Rory Conlon, Student Life Editor

On June 10, 2020, Class of 2020 students along with their immediate, close family gathered within quarantine to experience graduation over Skype. Many Irvington High School administrators lauded it as a step forward in terms of technology and an ideal way to deal with the difficult circumstances presented by the coronavirus. 

Graduates were mailed their diplomas about two days before the commencement live stream was scheduled to happen. Though it was sent through priority mail, only half of the students received it; however, the Irvington administration sent out a loopmail on the day of graduation with a diploma template that could be personalized and printed out for the remaining students to enjoy.

The livestream commenced about an hour late, at 7:00 in the evening instead of 6:00 in the afternoon. Fortunately, since daylight savings time meant that the sun set later, many of the students who watched graduation could still listen to the speeches given by those present either at Tak Fudenna Stadium itself or remotely present within the comfort of their own homes. 

Ms. Melsby, Ms. Antonacci, and one technology specialist from the Fremont Unified School District worked to organize this event for about the last three months of the school year. It was a remarkably simple process: Tak Fudenna Stadium had no other reservations due to the shelter in place order that had been active in Fremont. However, since all the chairs had been bought out of nearby stores and they could not access sophisticated video cameras, there were some minor compromises that needed to be made in preparation for the event. Ms. Melsby, who showed up to the event dressed in a complete hazmat suit, assured students and parents of the hard work being put into the event as well as the precautions being taken to make it even better.

“I’m happy to inform students and parents that we have found a very good video camera with which to film this event,” Melsby said. “It is one that a disposable camera I found in my closet from a vacation I took a few years ago with my family. Also, if you’re wondering where each of us is sitting, we will be sitting at opposite corners of this stadium. We are very close, so this is very difficult, but we will push through this.” 

She then turned the podium over to Ms. Antonacci, who welcomed everyone to the virtual graduation and offered winning advice and comfort to the graduating seniors. 

“I know that a lot of you seniors are not able to attend this livestream today,” Antonacci said, “because you could not finish your QUEST requirements. No worries, when the school opens back up in September, you’ll have the opportunity to repeat senior year over to make up these credits. Good luck in whatever virtual university you attend.” 

Suddenly, the camera dropped off the chair it had been perched on, and the footage abruptly cut off. The situation was quickly recovered by the technology specialist from the district, who placed the camera back on the chair, checked the sound, and then returned to playing Candy Crush on his phone six feet away from proceedings. Graciously, Ms. Antonacci turned the podium over to the valedictorian, who wore cookie monster pajamas and connected deeply with the audience despite only being seen through 360p resolution. 

“It’s just incredible,” the valedictorian stated, “that we have managed to survive high school. I think that the distance between us has truly brought us together as a graduating class, and I’ll be sad to leave this school. If we make it through this summer, there will be a wonderful future ahead of us. Good night!” 

Thus ended the virtual graduation of 2020. The whole class logged off at 10:00 that evening feeling a deep synergy with one another and a deep sense of nostalgia for the days when there was no quarantine.