By Hazel Kieu
On Wednesday, April 14, President Sterritt announced that the commencement ceremony for the graduating class of 2021 will be in-person instead of virtual. The changes in plans for commencement also included new COVID guidelines for graduation guests, as well as separated purple and gold ceremonies for students receiving either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science.
Most students are generally happy about the school’s decision to switch to an in-person ceremony. “I was very excited,” said Jessie Anderson ’21. “It seemed like the school actually cared and wanted us to have a celebration and bring people to it.”
“Given the circumstances, it seemed like the most practical thing to do,” said Isabella Bogdanski ’21 about the original plan for a virtual ceremony. Other students shared the same feelings, expressing that although it was frustrating, they didn’t expect anything more because of the pandemic.
For some students, the format of graduation wasn’t really a big deal. “I’m happy about having commencement in-person, but honestly, I just wanted to graduate, so I would have been fine either way,” said Vicky Luciano ’21.
However, the families of our 2021 graduates were much more passionate about the college’s original decision in having a virtual ceremony. “When I told my family that it was online, they were more mad than I was, and I was the one graduating,” said Anderson. “I realized graduation is not just for the students, it’s for the family and all the people that have watched you get there.”
The college now permits two fully vaccinated guests for each student graduating, which is defined by the CDC as being two weeks after one’s final shot, according to the St. Michael’s Commencement 2021 web page. Although students mostly agree with this vaccine requirement, some think the school could have made this decision earlier.
“They didn’t give people enough time to get fully vaccinated,” said MaKenzie Wright ’21. Danielle Keller, Wright’s parent, agrees. “Many places did not open up vaccines to all until it was too late to have both shots done by graduation,” Keller said.
As a result of this requirement, many parents won’t be able to come because they haven’t been fully vaccinated, including both Luciano’s and Bogdanski’s mothers.
“I feel like parents that have a negative test should be able to come to graduation,” said Bogdanski ’21. , Bogdanski’s mother agrees, adding that the school should loosen vaccine requirements especially if the ceremony is outside and everyone is wearing a mask.
Commencement will be divided into two ceremonies on May 13: a Gold Ceremony for Bachelor of Arts Candidates at 10:00 a.m. and a Purple Ceremony for Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree Candidates at 1:00 p.m. Although the decision was made to comply with all State health and safety guidelines, students wished they could still celebrate together as a whole class. “We all struggled for four years and we’ve been so tight, we’re just trying to have a graduation together,” said Luciano ’21.
“All in all, the plan for commencement is not ideal, but it is a fair compromise between pre-pandemic hopes and the current reality of the situation,” said Keller. “I can’t really fault St. Mike’s for the plan or the timing of its delivery, because of the many changes on a weekly basis. Perfect decisions cannot be made in an imperfect environment,” she concluded.
There will be a link to a livestream on the day of the ceremonies, as well as a virtual Baccalaureate Mass held on Sunday, May 16. For more information, you can visit St. Michael’s College Commencement 2021 web pages.