'Graduating in 2020' by Emma Boersma

EDITORIAL: End-of-year festivities greatly appreciated, but utilize student voices as resource

As the 2019-20 school year comes to a close and Sacramentans remain under lockdown, the school developed a plan to make up for the in-person high school graduation and end-of-the-year activities.

According to an email from head of high school Brooke Wells to students and parents on May 15, a drive-through celebration is scheduled for June 3. On the following day, the plan is “to take individual and group photos (with social distancing) throughout the afternoon. In the evening, we will have presentations of diplomas and special gifts and the world premier of our graduation video. We are awaiting final approval from public officials on our plans.”

This plan is miles ahead of a Zoom graduation.  

In the meantime, teachers dropped off lawn signs and T-shirts to the seniors, and SCDS created a banner for Munroe Street, rented California State University, Sacramento’s video billboard for the week of graduation and bought ads in local publications. 

A May 6 email from Wells to seniors and parents stated that “high school awards will be presented to the community on May 26 in a special newsletter,” senior seminars will be held via Zoom that week, and the Senior Dinner is postponed to Dec. 18 “following the traditional freshman panel and before the alumni reunion that night.” 

Aside from a prom replacement, the May 6 email covered all the important end-of-the-year events. 

While details are still limited due to the ever-changing COVID-19 regulations, the school seems to have found the perfect middle ground: Some events are moved online, while others are postponed and reworked. 

The lawn signs with our quirky class photo and custom T-shirt are thoughtful reminders that our senior year was more than a nightmare.

Clearly, the faculty cares about making seniors feel appreciated and is doing its best given the current situation. 

We appreciate the thought and effort that went into modifying these events while preserving the commemorative spirit. 

Although correspondence went out to seniors and parents regarding said plans, we would have appreciated having input despite the limited time frame.

According to a May 18 Octagon poll of 31 seniors, 45.2% wished the school had contacted them, 41.9% didn’t care and 12.9% didn’t want to be contacted.

In the poll, nine seniors said they liked the graduation plan, five wanted it to be postponed, and eight had no opinion. Six wanted a virtual graduation of some sort, and three said they wanted caps and gowns. 

The effort the faculty has put into this replacement graduation is admirable, but it’s frustrating that the school didn’t acknowledge the importance of student voices. 

While the graduation plans are a creative substitute, the lack of student input begs complaint.

Yes, students typically don’t have much of a say in the graduation ceremony. But this unique situation calls for a breach in tradition. Especially while everything is up in the air these days, increasing clarity and forthcomingness is instrumental in maintaining community.

Country Day boasts of its tight-knit community and teacher-student relationship yet acted against this sentiment.

With only 31 seniors, it would be extremely easy to get input from students.

We realize that this situation is unprecedented, but shouldn’t that call for more open communication between students and faculty?

The school is doing the best it can with the resources available, but why not let the graduating class be one more resource?

This is a graduation that we are going to remember for years to come, so let us help make it a positive one. In the end, both parties are working toward the same goal — ending the school year on a positive note.

Maybe that means postponing graduation. At least the result would be something students can definitively look forward to. 

Set a precedent for the next class and beyond. Live up to the reputation Country Day has built for itself: a community in which people genuinely care about each other and work together. 

This is what makes Country Day stand out from other schools in the area, so utilize this tool to the fullest extent. Give us the chance to contribute our opinions now, surrounded by a community that holds our well-being in mind. 

Originally published in the May 26 edition of the Octagon.