Though a Bowman High School senior would typically walk across the stage at their high school, accepting their diploma while family and friends cheered, this year’s graduation ceremony was a little different.
As they walked across the stage at Central Park, clad in their caps, gowns and newly added masks, cars packed with family members and decorated with signs, streamers and balloons drove past, cheering from a safe distance.
This drive-thru graduation allowed seniors to celebrate the milestone while still following Public Health’s guidelines amid the current pandemic.
Later in the evening, a virtual graduation video was released via livestream, and could be watched at home, making for a day-long celebration for graduates.
After a procession of photos of the seniors in their caps and gowns, Bowman Principal Eran Zeevi began the virtual ceremony with a quote that read in part: “Resilience is accepting your new reality.”
“Class of 2020, that is exactly what you have done,” Zeevi said. “Whether the fires causing school closures or the substantial historic pandemic, causing a massive shift in education, you all have persevered through this challenge to mark your seat today as a high school graduate. You’re a special class, you’re a remarkable class, and you are a resilient class.”
As students and staff tackled the challenge of transitioning online for their spring semester, a time typically filled with activities celebrating seniors achievements, Zeevi said he was proud.
“Graduates, you have achieved a great feat, one that will remain historic in time,” he added. “You are the class that graduated virtually, and you are the class that showed the world that what was thought to be impossible you endured to make possible.”
Along with speeches made by staff, scholarships were presented to some of the graduates, along with special recognition awards, where each teacher recognized a senior who had displayed outstanding achievement during their time at Bowman.
Some of the graduates also had a chance to speak, and senior Kaitlynn Loven described the occasion as a day that will mark a new era for herself and her fellow graduates.
“What we are experiencing is not what we imagined when we thought of graduation at 10 years old, but we made it work,” Loven said. “We have not allowed (the coronavirus) to take this away from us. This is still the day we celebrate, the day we look back on our 13 years of education, the day we’ve all been waiting for: graduation day. … As seniors, we realize that although this night marks the end of one chapter, it also marks a new beginning.”
Fellow graduate Ansel Greene echoed Loven’s statement, explaining the valuable life lessons he learned in his senior year at Bowman.
“If people tell you you can’t, don’t give up on your dreams, hard work pays off. And with hard work, you can achieve so much more,” Greene said. “I learned that while at Bowman, and I’ll take it with me for the rest of my life. Class of 2020, strive to be the best version of yourself. You manifest your own destiny, you deserve this day, and you truly matter.”
As seniors’ names and photos were displayed in procession on the video, students could be heard thanking those who helped them along their journeys. This was then followed by a video of each student moving their tassel, as their words of appreciation continued.
Teachers and staff were also given the opportunity to share videos of themselves at home, congratulating seniors and marking the momentous occasion.