We did it! We graduated 30 students in three virtual ceremonies attended by family members from across the USA and the globe. Teachers delivered gift bags to every graduate the day ahead of the ceremony, containing graduation caps, diploma, a peacock feather and books.
Parents sent in cute photos that were put into a PowerPoint for a virtual procession, to be screenshared while Pomp and Circumstance played. It was so fun to watch the graduates reactions as they saw their photo show up on the big screen!
We tried to replicate our traditional ceremony because many of this year’s graduates had watched their older friends in their Montessori class graduate in previous years, and they knew the program – procession in wearing caps, Pomp and Circumstance, welcome speech, and the story of how peacock feathers became a traditional gift for graduates of the Montessori School of Pullman (To remind them that they should all be proud as peacocks of their growth, leadership and friendship over their years at Montessori). This was followed by individual comments by the teacher, sharing the strengths and gifts each child brought to the community. Each graduate received cheers, applause and Zoom reactions! We ended with a living room dance party to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams.
It was a group effort. Best comment, “Our graduation was so much fun – we had photos, peacock feathers and a living room dance party!” We certainly made the best of a challenging situation. I also believe that we can always learn and grow from challenging situations – for sure, from now on, we will have some virtual aspect of our graduation ceremonies so that distant family members can join in, from wherever they are in the world. It was a joy to see grandparents cheering for their grandchildren!
Congratulations, graduates! The event brought us excitement and happiness!
As well as graduation, we have also celebrated birthdays online via Zoom. Again we tried to replicate our traditional event, but added some fun collaborations that were made possible via Zoom. Families screenshared photos as they told the story of the birthday child’s life, or they held actual photos close to the computer camera! We sang the traditional Montessori birthday song as the child carried a globe, or a ball (whatever was available to represent the Earth) around the sun. We sang the Happy Birthday song, and the child blew out the candle. The elementary aged students loved to send birthday messages via the chat feature, and we also collaborated via google docs on a birthday card that was screenshared at the event, and then sent to the child’s family. We also captured the event in a few screenshots to be shared with the family. And as it was a party, we usually ended with a living room dance party – that is becoming a new tradition!
As a staff we have enjoyed a surprise baby shower, and a going away party via Zoom. It is vitally important to maintain connections, relationships and celebrate important events during this period of social distancing. If you doubt its importance, just take a look at these smiling faces!
When it comes down to it, this is all about maintaining relationships!