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A Difficult Year Ends With
Sweet Rewards

Graduates in chapel

“I can’t believe we made it.”

The young man’s voice swelled with glee as he strode away from the giant tent after Commencement 2021, his arm slung over a fellow graduate’s shoulder. 

He was hardly alone. Throughout the ceremony, amid all the cheers and tears, there was a palpable sense of relief and amazement emanating from every graduate, parent, and NMH employee who gathered under the tent.

Even Head of School Brian Hargrove seemed blown away as he welcomed families and graduating seniors and postgraduates to a ceremony no one was sure could even happen this year. “Holy smokes, it’s amazing to be here after 40 weeks of being on campus and quarantine, and 35 weeks of living and learning together,” he said. “Thank you.”

Graduates outside chapel
Happy graduate with boy

Because COVID-19 limited last year’s Commencement and end-of-school events to a series of online videos and live streams, this year’s celebrations felt especially sweet. People gathered in person, jubilant behind their masks. Seniors and PGs dressed up for the Chateau Dance, stood atop the chapel tower to watch the sun rise, and billowed into the Commencement tent in gowns and tasseled mortarboards. They sang “Jerusalem” into each other’s ears instead of over Zoom. There were fewer guests than usual at graduation because of COVID-related crowd restrictions, and some students weren’t able to get to campus to participate in the ceremony, but close to 200 exuberant brand-new alumni walked across the stage to claim their diplomas and bump elbows with Hargrove. 

Graduates in line outside chapel
Graduates take selfie outside chapel

Their classmate Zari Newman, the senior orator, spoke for all of them when she said, “If there’s one thing I learned at NMH, it’s to trust that I can do the improbable, and to surround myself with people who think the same.”

Graduate hugs adult

After Commencement, Hargrove sent a note of appreciation to NMH employees, but his words rang true for every member of the NMH community. “We climbed a mountain that we did not even know existed a few short months ago,” he wrote. “As we enjoy the view, let me affirm what I have tried to convey this year at every step. What we have accomplished is a collective success.” 

Photography by Chattman Photography
Drone video by David Warren