It was Leaving Class event unique in the school’s history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but all the same it was meaningful, poignant and full of humour. And although a more traditional graduation ceremony will be planned for the fall, Year 12 students were able to commemorate the end of their secondary school careers with accolades from administrators and teachers – and many of their own memories.
The day kicked off with a brunch shared virtually by students and their families. The official festivities got underway at 2 p.m. emceed by graduating student Toby Henderson.
“We are bound together by shared experiences,” Henderson told his classmates.
Both Principal Sam McKinney and Naheed Bardai, head of the Upper School, offered students their best wishes. McKinney spoke as both principal and the parent of a graduating student. “I want to thank you for all you’ve done for the school, and for all the ways you contribute to this community,” he said. “You are an extraordinary class of individuals and I’m very proud to call you UCC’s own.” McKinney also announced that Shaan Hooey will be class valedictorian.
Bardai told the boys that this year’s unusual circumstances didn’t erase the value of their experience and the relationships they forged during the UCC careers.
“The foundation of all those relationships is trust,” Bardai said. “When we’re able to operate with trust and integrity, the future is bright, and the network we have around us is strong and full of care.”
Graduates also spoke for themselves with video clips focusing on what they’ll miss most about the College, and expressing gratitude for the enduring friendships created. The compilation was assembled by their classmate, Marcus Chong.
Julian Bauld, English teacher and UCC’s poet laureate, delivered a graduation address to his former students about their lives to date and their lives ahead.
“To make any of it worthwhile, you must look for meaning in your life and that means paying attention to everything,” he advised the graduates. “Have you given yourself time to reflect? Have you allowed quiet to linger? Have you reached beyond the comfort of your thoughts? These can be the most challenging undertakings, giving your mind the room it needs to breathe, so your imagination can take its own steps and join you in tandem as you move further down the trail.”
As the students absorbed his thoughtful words, grad Kurt Karul injected some levity, fulfilling a promise to play the drum solo from the movie Whiplash blindfolded for his classmates. The smiles continued as attendees watched a video taken of members of the Class of 2020 as 10-year-olds, sharing their greatest memories of the Primary Years Programme.
Skylar Kim and emcee Henderson offered artistic tributes, Kim with a vocal and guitar rendition of the song “Together” and Henderson with a poem composed for the occasion, before Brendan Dellandrea ’01, vice-principal, advancement, extolled the value of the ties formed at UCC.
“In ways large and small, you have contributed to the success of one another,” Dellandrea said. “You are here together because you have succeeded together and this bond is unlike any other.”
Dellandrea then announced that the president of the Class of 2020 would be the same as its valedictorian, Shaan Hooey, who will be responsible for keeping the class connected.
“My promise to you is that I will do everything in my power to develop these special relationships we have been fortunate enough to build,” Hooey said.
To close the formal portion of the event, the Class of 2020 demonstrated their bond by singing along to a video rendition of school song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as recorded by Daniel Webb, the UCC organist. Class members are hoping they will have a chance to walk together again in person soon.