Even though global reopenings provide a sense of hope, American schools are far from ready to resume as normal. Events such as Commencement, Prize Day, Alumni Weekend, and Field Day are just some examples of special occasions rearranged and postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.
The first Friday of June is normally Commencement, the day Hopkins pays tribute to graduating seniors. Assistant Head of School John Roberts calls it “the day to celebrate our amazing seniors” when “[the school] puts up [a giant tent] on the field just beyond the Thompson Quad.” While the Class of 2020 will not have a normal Commencement ceremony, Head of School Kai Bynum and the school administration are arranging certain events to work around the pandemic. Roberts reassures that “we've got a few possible alternatives depending on the rules for social distancing that may be in place over the summer”, some of which were finalized in an all-school email sent by Bynum on May 15. The Events include a virtual Cum Laude Ceremony, faculty visits to senior homes in late May and early June, and an in-person Commencement Ceremony in early August.
Prize Day, when students from grades seven through twelve receive awards for their hard work and accomplishments in different disciplines as well as other aspects of school life, is typically held the day before Commencement. Categories range from, “Who is the most incredible theater kid this year in the senior class? The most devoted singer in the choir? The most ridiculously strong Latin Student? And so on,” according to Roberts. He continues to explain that, “what [he loves] most about Prize Day is that every time a prize gets awarded and a student's name gets read, some portion of our school literally explodes with joy.” While the school cannot come together on Thursday, June 4, there are plans in place to make up for the postponed Prize Day. Class of 2022 Head Advisor Emile Harris outlines how Prize Day is going to work around the coronavirus: “Prizes for 7th [through] 11th graders will still be awarded, but at a later date... The senior prize recipients will be recognized at a virtual Senior Awards Ceremony at the end of May.”
Alumni Weekend is an opportunity for “Hopkins alumni to return to The Hill to reconnect with each other and former faculty” according to Director of the Hopkins Fund Charles Rich. Usually taking place in either the last week of May or the first week of June, alumni from all years are welcomed back on campus. Alumni returning for multiples of five year anniversaries are especially celebrated during this weekend through gatherings such as the 50 year reunion breakfast held at Swensen House. According to Rich, “Alumni are invited to a welcome reception on Friday evening at Dr. Bynum's home to kick off the weekend and then move on to class-specific gatherings throughout Greater New Haven.” The following Saturday, Hopkins is bursting at the seams with “family activities, alumni sports, and back-to-class sessions throughout the day, culminating with a reunion dinner under the tent,” as Rich explains. But what is going to happen now that campus is closed? Since meeting in person is no longer an option for this term, Hopkins is considering creating a “joint” reunion for next year where, as Rich explains, “[the school] recognizes all classes ending in ‘0 and ‘5 as well as those ending in ‘1 and ‘6.”
Hopkins’ Field Day typically takes place on the last day of classes. Former Student Council President Katherine Takoudes ’20 explained how StuCo brings and arranges “food trucks, inflatables and a Dunk Tank to school, yard games, water balloon fights, a Peaches performance, a face paint station, and ends the day with a decathlon or triathlon between the maroon (odd years) and gray (even years) teams consisting of fun events.” But since the coronavirus moved Hopkins online, May 22, what would have been Field Day, was slated to look very different. Takoudes said, “the seniors are going back to Hopkins for a motorcade around campus - [they]'ll decorate [their] car[s], be able to wave to [their] teachers, get a few special items from the school, [and] be together as a grade.”
As for when Field Day will happen, StuCo is leaning towards the idea of moving it to later in the summer or the beginning of the next school year, instead of putting it online. Takoudes believes Field Day is about coming together as a community, so there would be no purpose to try and move it online: “We don't want to try and recreate Field Day virtually or electronically because the whole spirit of Field Day is to be outside with the school and enjoy being together.” Harris points out some of the Student Council’s attempts to keep our school spirit going strong: StuCo adapted to the virtual environment by hosting a scavenger hunt and each grade has been hosting grade wide events such as Kahoot or trivia nights.” Current StuCo president Ella Zuse ’21 hopes to “combine some elements of Field Day into Back to School Bash as soon as we can all be together,” as both events are quite popular among students.