The Loomis Chaffee community convened — virtually — across distances and time zones to recognize and honor the Class of 2020 in friendship, admiration, and goodwill this week, culminating with a video address from Head of School Sheila Culbert in Founders Chapel on Sunday, May 24.
The week of celebration marked the students’ successful completion of their academic requirements for graduation.
“Today I acknowledge this moment for you — your graduation from this wonderful school,” Sheila said. “I offer you my sincere and admiring congratulations.”
Sheila addressed this year’s 184 graduates and the community at the hour and on the day when Commencement was supposed to take place on the Island. She acknowledged the great disappointment, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that the class could not enjoy spring term or be together on campus for this day of celebration. She committed to bringing the Class of 2020 back to the school for Commencement sometime in the future.
“We will be together again,” Sheila assured the class.
Sheila read the names of the seniors who earned Commencement Prizes as well as those who earned Charles Edgar Sellers Prizes, given by the faculty, which traditionally are presented during Class Night on the evening before Commencement.
2020 Commencement prize recipients were:
The Loomis Family Prize : Ethan C. Levinbook
The Charles Henry and Mary Chaffee Willcox Prize: Yeuk Yin Lam
The Batchelder Prize: Maral Mary Asik
The Jennie Loomis Prize: Makayla Patricia McPherson
The Florence E. Sellers Prize: Isabelle Li Ingram Halsey
The Ammidon Prize: Anya Sastry
2020 Faculty Sellers prize recipients were:
Benjamin Aquila Bray Lawrence
Aaron Xavier On͂ate
Freya Moon Rich
The two keynote speakers for the 2020 Commencement also shared videos with the class on Sunday while saving their full remarks until the ceremony can take place at a later date. Commencement Speaker Pauline W. Chen ’82, a Loomis Chaffee Trustee and parent of two members of the Class of 2020, sent a warm video acknowledgement, and senior Ryan Jones, elected by his peers to be class speaker at Commencement, recorded a message for his classmates.
Senior week came together as an earnest all-school effort to show support for and celebrate the seniors’ achievements.
The week’s variety of gestures included numerous photo and video send-offs from teammates, classmates, faculty members, student club members, and friends as well as several multimedia tributes to the Class of 2020 produced by the school and gathered onto the Loomis Chaffee website for all to visit, share, celebrate, and enjoy together.
The Class of 2020 webpage includes messages from faculty, alumni, and members of the Loomis Chaffee Board of Trustees, musical performances by individual students and the Chamber Singers, a slideshow of photos capturing seniors at points throughout their Loomis Chaffee careers, and appearances by the beloved Pelican mascot, among other tributes.
Seniors also were among those honored at an all-school awards event on Friday, May 22. The video Celebration of Excellence, presented by Associate Director of Studies Bob DeConinck, acknowledged seniors named to the Cum Laude Society, departmental award recipients, and seniors earning Global & Environmental Studies Certificates as well as honoring students for extracurricular achievements and contributions to the school and greater community.
To give each graduate a special surprise, the school mailed silver gift boxes to seniors, most arriving in advance of Sunday’s Head of School Address. Each box, wrapped with a maroon bow, contained the student’s diploma in a presentation folder and other celebratory gifts, including a commemorative silver tray, a note from Sheila, and a personal note from the student’s advisor or other close faculty member. Varsity letters, PRISM kente cloths, and Spectrum pins also accompanied the commemorative swag in accordance with each student’s involvement in other school organizations, teams, and efforts.
Connect to the Loomis Chaffee Class of 2020 Celebration webpage to watch Sheila’s, Pauline’s, and Ryan’s video presentations and to read the list of graduating seniors and senior prize and award recipients.