Verde Valley School delivered one of the most meaningful and aesthetically beautiful ceremonies for their graduates May 30. Although this year looked different due to not having a physical commencement ceremony on campus at Verde Valley School, the school still provided a purposeful and memory-filled virtual adjustment to honor its 27 graduates who are the 2020 inductees of Verde Valley School’s Alumni association.
VVS students have so many traditions leading up to the final commencement ceremony that it is incomplete to write about the end, without sharing some of the process that leads to the final celebration. Each senior was required to deliver a formative speech to the entire school during one of the school's biweekly community meetings. With clue finding, a junior class scavenger hunt created by the seniors offers a journey to earn their coveted VVS rings. Rings that are easily identified by alumni all over the world as a significant belonging to a global community.
There are special breakfasts and dinners, teas and barbecues, a fire ceremony, and a muddy, red-dirt pit filled with water that everyone eventually ends up in giggling with joy, academic awards, citizen awards, and the list gets deeper with a 10-day affinity learning model called Project Period.
Leading up to these celebrations, this year VVS sent care packages to each of its students that allowed everyone to participate virtually from wherever they were. The packages included all kinds of fun, familiar and wonderful things, most especially a handwritten note from each student’s advisor and a bag of red dirt. This year ended with virtual gatherings including a toast to our seniors, a fun faculty talent show, a showcase of projects, a formal baccalaureate ceremony, and a Verde Valley School Commencement.
Many graduates and schools around the world had valid concerns and mourned what they felt would be lost due to the pandemic. Seeing the sadness and confusion that was affecting our school, the VVS community came together in a way that no one could have imagined. Through support from staff, students, families, and Alumni Association the school was able to put together a VVS Commencement.
After weeks of planning, preparing, recording, and gathering, our VVS community came together for a virtual Zoom event that was accompanied by a prerecorded ceremony. Viewers watched the annual procession, led by the familiar sounds of our bagpiper who led the way from our beloved VVS Chapel, down the well-worn path to a crowd of exuberant faculty and staff clapping, cheering and blowing bubbles.
The ceremony continued with a myriad of well wishes, music, graduate speeches, alumni advice, the presentation of awards, and the most well deserved Verde Valley School diplomas.
Many of these moments were recorded separately and then were brought together in a process that was entertaining and meaningful.
Hearts were aching for our 2020 graduates as they grieved the loss of their last semester together and the many celebrations they would have shared here on campus with one another.
However, watching their emotive faces and laughter/tear-filled reactions during our virtual commencement offered a reminder that these graduates are well prepared to see beyond their disappointment and privilege of having been here, to the greater purpose of their time here at VVS. They will be the leaders for humanity, the difference-makers, and the service givers for something greater than themselves. The red dirt of this place and the lessons they’ve learned will forever live in their hearts wherever they go.