Nearly 400 Wellesley High School Class of 2020 graduates paraded through the streets of town on Saturday morning in decorated vehicles draped in red and black. Family, friends and the general public cheered along the way, before the grads picked up their diplomas at Wellesley High. At the front door of the school, a face shielded Principal Jamie Chisum, looking natty in a suit and tie, conferred diplomas via car window. Chisum was backed up by a crew of parents and staff wearing Raider red, who kept the the diplomas organized and made sure the right document went to the right graduate.
Graduation 2020 was switched to a car-parade format after the academic year was truncated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wellesley schools closed on Friday, March 13 for what was originally thought to be a two-week period. Students never did get back into the classroom, finishing up their classes online.
But despite the unconventional ceremony, or maybe because of it, a party atmosphere reigned. A bubble machine cranked out its product, as faculty and staff, puffed with pride, shouted their support in the parking lot of the school.
A somber note played just beneath the surface, though, in light of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25 in Minneapolis. Many vehicles bore painted messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Their Names” and ” Text Floyd to 55156″ in a show of solidarity.
As FourFiveSeconds blared out on the speakers, graduates sang loudly along with Rihanna: “See all of my kindness, is taken for weakness…”
Class of 2020, your kindness is needed out there in the world now more than ever. Please keep waking up as optimists, never sell your pride, and always bail each other out.
Congratulations Wellesley High School, Class of 2020.
We caught the parade on video livestream, in case you missed it or want to relive all 36-or-so minutes of it.
Here’s a glimpse of the action: