By Emily Shen (IV)
Blasting music in the senior area, taking selfies with their friends, and putting on their college shirts to show off their pride and incredible accomplishments––this was how the seniors imagined their last day to be like. However, given the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, that day had to be remote, which was, predictably, quite frustrating for the seniors. When asked about her last day, Ola Weber (VI) described it as “disappointing” and said, “Brian Li’s final morning meeting announcement concluded with rolling credits of all the senior student government members’ names. I hadn’t cried at all up until that point, but when ‘Hello, Goodbye’ by the Beatles started playing in the background, I was overwhelmed with so many emotions I couldn’t help but cry. But I guess that reaction says it all, doesn’t it? It shows how much this community has impacted me and shaped me into the person I am today.” Another senior, Alison Lee, commented that although she could not physically spend the last day with her friends, “Pingry did a really good job of keeping the Pingry spirit alive with Zoom calls and balloon deliveries by Pingry staff. It reminded everyone that we are part of a bigger Pingry community, and we will get through this.”
When asked about the favorite part of their last day, many mentioned the first-ever virtual SAC assembly. Weber, as a principal member of the SAC, shared the process of putting together this assembly. “When Dean Ross mentioned putting on the virtual SAC assembly, I thought it was a great idea. I think humor is so important and laughing through these times can really help us cope with this strange reality.” One of her biggest challenges and fears was that it wouldn’t bring comedic relief. “Obviously the technical component is tough because you’re not able to interact with people and in anything you do, but especially in comedy. After you’re finished with a project you crave feedback. You can really pick up on whether people think the stuff you’re putting out is funny or not and my biggest fear was that people would nod their head and smile and tell me ‘yeah this is good stuff’ but not really think it was.”
After the disappointing cancelation of the winter SAC assembly, the club aimed to utilize this new platform to provide the best content possible. When asked about the effects of the cancellation of the winter assembly, Nic Gambello (V), another organizer of the virtual assembly, responded, “It was disappointing, but I think it motivated us to work harder this time around. We knew people were upset in the winter, so we felt that we had a responsibility to make up for it.” Despite the challenges that came their way, the SAC did a great job to alleviate the students’ stress and many students gave feedback saying that it was something that they looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed.
Given the circumstances, seniors were not able to go back to school and participate in many exciting events, such as an in-person graduation ceremony or their senior dance. Many commented about how much they are going to miss the Pingry community. “I’m going to miss the teachers and I’m just going to miss the familiarity of it all. It’s really a lovely thing when you know a community so well, yet you can still learn so much from it each and every day.” Weber shared her most cherished moments at Pingry, “I always loved, during the spring, the days when it would be humid and then a couple of hours into school there would be a thunderstorm and you’d be in class and you’d crack the windows and you’d listen to the rain and the thunder and the trees––the school had this really distinct smell––and you were just in your little secluded Pingry bubble. I’d say those days I’m going to miss the most.” Similarly, Lee noted that she is going to miss the energy that Pingry has. “I am going to miss conversations with my teachers and high-fives with my friends. We’re not going to have the famous senior day bouncy house,” she remarked, “but I hear next year’s reunion is going to be huge!”
Despite not being able to say goodbyes to the seniors in person, every one of us in the Pingry community is sending our love and wishes to the graduating seniors. Dear Class of 2020, no matter where you go, or what dreams you decide to pursue, please know that, while disappointing, this period of time has brought us closer together as a Pingry community and that we will always be thinking of you. We will miss you, and best of luck!