Seniors React to Class Day


Head of School, Randall Dunn, presenting his annual Class Day Speech

Charlie Williams, Staff Writer

Class Day, held on May 20, was deemed a virtual success from a variety of grades. Senior Lizzie Nash said, “it exceeded my expectations for the circumstances… it flowed really well.” 

In the context of quarantine, Class Day was a unique, memorable event celebrating the year’s motto of togetherness. Starting at 8:15 a.m. with Mr. Dunn’s pre-recorded message, continuing to buddy videos, and ending with speeches, the day was unlike any Class Day prior.

A firm grasp on the technology played a significant role in the ceremony’s success. Mr. Edwards said, “There are so many different parts of Class Day that preparations started all the way back in early March, and then shifted gears in April when it became clear we would have to do a virtual event. The leadership and coordination of Ms. Horvath and Ms. Stanford structured the process in a way that provided good direction and a reasonable timeline to make it all happen.” 

“Mr. Simon was a huge help with the technology needed as well as with video editing. He also kindly served as the stage manager during the event, which was very much appreciated. We did a ‘dress rehearsal’ prior to the actual event to smooth out any wrinkles, and I think it helped make the live event a success,” Edwards added.  

Even though the positivity through the videos was overflowing, students felt the advertisement of the speech promoted it as though it would be live. Junior Maya Gray said, “I thought Mr. Dunn’s video was going to be live so I woke up early for it. I felt okay that it was pre-recorded, but it would have been nice if it was live.” 

Senior Emily Breitenecker said, “I was frankly a little disappointed with Mr. Dunn’s video not because it was pre-recorded but more because it was such short and sweeping statements, nothing very sentimental towards the seniors.” Laughing, she added, “The pre-recorded surprise was mostly annoying because I woke up early when I could have slept in.” 

To kick of the afternoon gathering, Mr. Baer delivered his Class Day speech, and the student body received it well. Junior Henry Coleman felt the speech evoked emotion in everyone. “I thought that Mr. Baer did a great job on his speech, and that was a highlight for me even though I’m not even a senior.” Even though the community couldn’t be together, Mr. Baer’s unique, personable way of bringing the community did not go unseen. 

“It still managed to be funny and evoke a lot of emotion even though it was on a screen,” said Keely Lovette, a senior. 

Mr. Baer recalled his writing process, saying, “I tend to write in bursts, so I would just jot down any ideas, memories, or jokes I thought of as soon as they came to me, on paper or on my phone. Once I plug those random thoughts into a document, it’s easier for me to then see the shape of what it could be and how to transition from one thought to the next.” Mr. Baer recognized the unique difficulties of delivering his speech over Zoom. “It’s hard to replicate that feeling of community that these end of the year events usually give us, but we’re all trying our best,” he said. “I do think the more live things we do, the better, in spite of the inevitable mishaps and awkwardness.” 

It wasn’t just Mr. Baer who left a mark on virtual Class Day; George delivered a memorable speech as well. As senior Joe Kennedy said, “George and Mr. Baer were incredibly heartfelt and funny, both were perfect for Class Day.” 

For George, the writing process looked a little different and felt more stressful than for Mr. Baer. George commented, “The writing process took a long time for my speech, I started by getting a bunch of ideas down and plotting them out. It was tough because I wanted it to be funny but also really wanted it to be a special moment for our class. Writing personally like that comes naturally, so it was a little scary, but I really actually prefer to speak from that place of intimacy and honesty.” 

And to tie the two speeches together were the superlatives from seniors Keely and Lizzie. Mr. Edwards commented, “Keely and Lizzie did such a good job with the superlatives, a huge time commitment to produce which they volunteered to do.” For them, the process looked completely different from that of Mr. Baer or George; both of them said, “we had nothing to do. We didn’t tamper results; it was all voted on by the students. We really didn’t do anything other than count [votes].” The way superlatives were run this year mirrored that of last year’s: a Google Form was sent out in which, according to Lizzie, “there were some clear winners but there were also a lot of ties,” following that form the ties were sent out as a multiple-choice question, not a fill-in-the-blank. 

With an average voter turnout of roughly 80, Lizzie wondered what they could have done differently to engage more of the senior class, crediting the lack of participation with the inability to stress cooperation. Even though they decided to videotape the superlatives, Keely mentioned, “we were very nervous. I mean, we were making jokes about kids we only had one class with. Obviously, we didn’t want to be mean, but we wanted to make it special for the people that won.” But as Mr. Baer said, “it was also just great to see Lizzie and Keely being their hilarious selves.”

This year’s Class Day was different, but in past years, Class Day has taken a lot of backlash for being too lengthy or not engaging for those not receiving awards. Senior Joe Kennedy commented, “I still have the belief that awards at Class Day take up too much time, as Class Day should be celebrating the entirety of our class. That said, the awards this year were much better, a few sections still were long-winded, but there was definitely an improvement.” Looking on the bright side, Mr. Baer commented, “I totally get that, and it can be a slog for non-seniors especially, but as a tradition that I’ve witnessed since I was a student here, I’ve always loved the unabashed back-slapping celebration of it all.” He said personally, “I also love it when someone gets an award for something that I had no idea was a passion of theirs. That’s the best. I mean, ultimately it’s an hour every year and being bored can be okay sometimes, you know? I can’t tell you how much I miss being bored with 400 other people in the same room.” 

Many like Emily still noted, “The event did not compare to the emotions that are cultivated when sitting next to my peers in the theater rather than next to my parents in the living room, but for what a zoom Class Day could be it was very well run and impressive for the limitations they had when putting it together.”

The small things, like Lizzie noted, were noticeably absent. “Sitting with your advisory and patting them on the back, or storming the stage to sing one song together, cannot compare to sitting staring at a screen,” she said.