By Brynn Weisholtz
In this time, we are surrounded by unknowns, unsure of whatever comes next. The media outlets have analyzed this pandemic from every angle, scrutinizing each viewpoint… except, it seems, the positive one. It is with this sentiment I find myself longing to share what I believe to be Pingry’s greatest quality: its deep commitment and dedication to the student body.
As I walked out of the clocktower on March 6th, my backpack filled with books, I was prepared to depart for my final Spring Break at Pingry, ready for the exciting conclusion to my senior year. However, this year, that anticipatory aura was not present. Preparing for COVID-19, teachers and administrators instructed us to bring everything home. When my extended Spring Break turned into a permanent quarantine, I feared this marked the end of high school. Nevertheless, while my time inside the Pingry walls came to a close, the faculty, staff, and administration refused to allow this to be our official end of high school. Even apart, we were able to stay connected as a class and community.
From this point, we went online. Teachers willingly made adjustments to their disrupted personal lives. The Pingry family grew, children and pets being a welcome inclusion into the virtual classroom. They helped us retain a sense of normalcy, even from our bedrooms and kitchen tables. Outside of the classroom, we were still able to participate in quintessential senior events. From the comfort of our homes, the Virtual SAC Assembly was as humorous and witty as ever. Dressed in spirit gear in our living rooms, the athletic awards were a welcome reminder of all we have accomplished over these last four years. The Pingry faculty and staff was instrumental in allowing us to keep these traditions, but that was not all these wonderful individuals did for us.
We, the Class of 2020, will go down in history for the world we are graduating into, but in our minds, we will fondly remember the special gifts and events we got to have, unique to our class. On the morning of May 1st, each senior woke up to balloons on our front steps, commemorating our final day of classes. Later that day, we were welcomed back to the Pingry parking lot, social distancing from our trunks and sunroofs. We received surprise packages, filled with bookstore memorabilia and graduation regalia. The Pingry community ensured that I could still display the Pingry colors proudly.
The teachers gave us lasting memories, bringing the student body and faculty together in unity. Whether the special videos with messages, the college shirt video, or the advisor Spotify playlist, we were able to get a window into the lives of our beloved teachers. No other class had received these special senior gifts, and they are ones my peers and I will continue to cherish.
Then came the senior picture day on campus. My family packed into our car and made the journey west on Route 78, perhaps for my last time as a high school student. We turned the corner past the stone entrance, and were met with familiar faces: ours, smiling back, all together. The car slowed to a crawl down the driveway as I scanned the images of my friends and peers. This was quite the surprise, and such a special one at that. The Pingry community had given us this treasured gift, one even my brother, Class of 2016, laments he did not receive. Although we missed out on the last few months in Basking Ridge, we received innumerable and immeasurable gifts, specially curated for our class, that we will take with us forever, uniquely ours.
There is a theme throughout these activities: connection and community. While we certainly did not envision ending our Pingry career this way, we, the collective Pingry community, have not allowed quarantine to rob us of our traditions. From the award ceremonies over Zoom to the senior photos on campus, we maintain a positive and unified group. The Class of 2020 will certainly be remembered, and the teachers and administration are sending us off with unprecedented fanfare that will propel us into our future colleges with courage and resilience. Things may be more different now that ever, but we are still going out strong. Thank you Pingry and congratulations to the Class of 2020 once more.