Dear NMH Class of 2020 families,
As I send this, I am meeting with the Class of 2020 and sharing that we will postpone on-campus Commencement exercises scheduled for May 24. While not unexpected, this decision has been accelerated by our governor’s announcement that schools must remain closed in Massachusetts through June. And we anticipate it likely will land hard on our seniors and postgraduates. This is not the way the NMH Class of 2020 wants to launch from our beautiful hillside; this is not how our students want to say good-bye to their teachers, advisors, coaches, and dear friends at Northfield Mount Hermon.
I promised the seniors in March — and will remind them today — that we will identify a way to acknowledge their graduation and celebrate them. Their class advisors are working with the class to shape a virtual Commencement experience later in May. This event will not replace an on-campus celebration, however. We still will honor the Class of 2020 with an appropriate, in-person, and celebratory event on our campus as soon as we can safely and practically do so.
When we gathered as a school in Memorial Chapel on March 4 for our all-school meeting, I offered students an assurance. I reminded them that we stand on very solid ground; that our school has thrived for over 140 years; and that we will take on whatever challenges COVID-19 sends our way. I offered these words as comfort in a stressful time. Certainly, I did not fully appreciate in the moment that, within just a few days, we would have to delay and eventually cancel the resumption of on-campus activities for the rest of the spring semester.
So much has changed since that moment in Memorial Chapel. As I know well, COVID-19 has directly impacted many in our extended NMH community. Yet I continue to find strength and clarity in how our community is responding. While physically apart, we are coming together in profound ways.
Our students give me and all my NMH colleagues hope for our school and for our communities far and wide. They have responded to adversity in incredibly heartening and inspiring ways. In addition to furthering their studies under very different circumstances, they have sought ways to serve their families and communities; they have offered support and comfort to their classmates and their faculty, and they have found the strength to engage with difficult experiences and emotions that collide each day as they navigate a very different world. In short, our students are embracing and living our school mission as they serve others with humanity and purpose in all that they do. The Class of 2020 is leading the way. They stand together and share their collective strength with their fellow students, their families, and the broader NMH community.
Of course, I appreciate that today’s news quickly leads to practical questions regarding student belongings. Next week, we will communicate our plans for packing, storing, and shipping the contents of students’ rooms. We are working hard to ensure that we make this as simple as possible for all our students and their families, which, as you can imagine, presents additional logistical challenges. More to come on this work next week.
Again, I offer my thanks to the Class of 2020 for their leadership. I offer my thanks to this remarkable class and our shared promise that, when the moment finally arrives, we will all come together to celebrate their collective journey at Northfield Mount Hermon.
With gratitude, appreciation and respect for the Class of 2020,
Head of School