The Class of 2020 celebrated its Distribution of Diplomas on Friday, June 5, in an event unlike any other in St. Anne’s-Belfield School history. Due to the social distancing required to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors took part in a multi-station processional in Charlottesville, as well as a complementary ceremony in Shanghai, China.
“For all that they have achieved and celebrated in their time here, it is how the students in the Class of 2020 have loved and cared for one another in seasons of tragedy and loss that will forever bind them together and to St. Anne's-Belfield School,” said Class of 2020 Dean David Smith.
“Through so many crucibles they have emerged as one multifaceted diamond that will leave behind a legacy of brilliant, colorful light," he said. "We will remember them for their compassion and deep empathy, for their resilience and fortitude, for their laughter and vibrant spirits, and we could not be prouder to send them off into a world that so desperately needs their special voices. In a year that for so many was defined by distance and isolation, the Class of 2020 overcame their physical separation to forge an even more closely-knit family.”
Beginning at 7:00 a.m. EST, 33 graduates and alumni from the Classes of 2018 - 2024 gathered in Shanghai to begin the School’s first overseas diploma event. Following tradition, the nine graduating seniors processed in to the Pomp and Circumstance March. Residential Life Presidents Yutong Lu '20 and Bella Li '20 both spoke to the assembled guests. There was a tribute video of the students, a tribute video from faculty and then the graduates sang the School song. Faculty in Charlottesville used Zoom to congratulate the graduates. Immediately afterwards, the group watched the School’s Class Night recordings as well as the livestreamed Senior Chapel featuring a sermon by Upper School Humanities teacher Jimmy Zunka '00.
“This year's graduating class has maximized the opportunities the School has presented to them in all areas, but most importantly, they have shown themselves to be a kind group,” said Director of Residence Life Antxon Iturbe of the School’s senior Residential Life students. “Their loyalty to the School is unquestionable and I love that so many of them gathered to celebrate the culmination of four years of hard work and memories.”
At 10:00 a.m. EST, local seniors began arriving to the Belfield Campus for their own event which included a processional in which seniors drove to several stations including a sharing of School gifts and mementos with David Smith, a distribution of 2020 yearbooks with Associate Head of School for Academics Beth Miller and Yearbook Advisor Jacob Stoner, and a presentation of diplomas with Head of School David Lourie and Board of Trustees Chair Frank Edmonds. Graduate and family photos were then taken at the School sign with Head of the Upper School Peter Quagliaroli.
“As remarkable as they have been since March, these young men and women have always been remarkable, in what they have achieved in the classrooms, on the stage, in the studios, on the fields and courts, and, most importantly, in the community at large,” noted Lourie. “They are talented, empathetic, courageous, and principled, just the kind of visionary leaders and exemplary citizens we so desperately need right now. St. Anne's-Belfield's Class of 2020 is an extraordinary group who will do extraordinary things in the years to come, and we wish them well at the same time we are sad to see them go.”
For more information on where the members of the Class of 2020 are headed next, please visit www.stab.org/matriculation. To view more photos from the Distribution of Diplomas, please visit the School’s SmugMug account. You can also view a special tribute to the Class of 2020 here.
Please note, the School's 110th Commencement Exercises are currently rescheduled for Aug. 14, 2020.