Graduation goes home

LM alumni reflect on their commencement ceremonies and their meaning—or lack thereof.

Graphics by Emmi Wu ’23/Staff
Graphics by Emmi Wu ’23/Staff

LM’s commencement is returning to Saint Joseph’s University (SJU). The ceremony has been traditionally held on SJU premises since 2008 when Villanova University’s pavilion was being renovated. LM then pronounced SJU as its location for commencements, allowing Harriton to use Vilanova’s grounds. But the past two years, of course, have been different. As a result of COVID-19, the senior class of 2020 graduated online and received their diplomas isolated from their fellow classmates, while the class of ’21 had their ceremony on Arnold Field. But, the evening of June 8, the commencement will be back to normal. 

Does the venue of the ceremony affect its overall significance? Can the importance of the soon-to-be graduates’ accomplishments be enough on their own? “The location doesn’t matter to me because it’s really just a place…but I am excited for the adventures after graduation, and to see what it all holds for me,” comments Zach Brownstein ’22. In contrast, history teacher John Grace states, “The location is special, when there is a community consensus that it is the right place.” Returning the ceremony to SJU can give some a sense of contentment, knowing the long road is coming to an end. For many, graduation is the bridge to new adventures. 

As one grows into adulthood, one often reminisces on the times of adolescence. For some alumni, graduation holds some of their most unforgettable memories, and for others, it remains one thing to always feel a little nostalgic about. “It felt more like an ending than a beginning,” recalls Liz Tiley ’94. “I just felt like it was weird to have all of that end in just one afternoon.” 

And yet, certain people, such as Megan Gilbert ’94, do not recall much. “I don’t remember anything except what I wore. A long black crocheted dress.” As years go on, one may take a trip down memory lane and reflect on one’s youth, to remember the good and the bad. However, not everyone is fond of the high school experience. “I tried to make the best of it…I felt the biggest sense of relief because that chapter of my life was over,” recalls Audrey Price Gornish ’96. “You’re so focused on your name being called, walking up there, and receiving your diploma.” Everyone’s experience during their academic journey differs, but each and everyone can remember and reflect. 

Teachers, throughout their careers, attend many commencements, carrying their most cherished junctures with them. “There are several moments at graduation I so enjoy, every year,” remarks Grace fondly. He explains one of his most treasured times during the ceremonies is the end, and “the joy of accomplishment shared by everyone.” 

Countless people come together to watch their loved ones receive their diplomas in honor of their achievements. In the near future, seniors will say goodbye to their high school careers, stepping off the SJU stage into their futures.

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