On Saturday, May 9th, 2020, campus would have been a beehive of activity. Members of the Class of 2020, a little sleep-deprived from their last night on campus, would have made their way up the hill in suits that had hung in closets all year for just this occasion. Faculty would be waiting on the Goldsmith Dining Hall porch, ready to affix a flower and an alumni pin on each student as he made his way upstairs to grab coffee or a quick bite to eat. “What time did you get to bed?” faculty members would ask while other staff members would help adjust ties; scissors would even be on hand to cut vent stitches on new blazers. Trustees would arrive, shaking hands with students and sharing a memory or two from their own Bridgton Commencement. Soon, the Class of 2020 would have gathered on the hill, taking a final group picture before they officially transition to alumni status. A straggler—perhaps one of the young men who would have been among the brave few to take a late-night dip in Long Lake’s icy waters—would be running up the hill, desperate not to miss the picture while his classmates cheered him on. At long last, the photographer would bellow, “We’ve got everybody?! Okay, on three!”
The Class of 2020 would then have lined up next alongside Chalmers Ice Arena. The Academy’s bagpiper would play a few notes, and excitement and sadness would fill the air as the final moments to celebrate achievements and say goodbyes arrived. Soon cars would be packed, tears would be shed, horns would honk, and students would yell, signaling the end of one journey and the exciting beginning of another. The day would have been one of equal parts joy and bittersweet endings.
For the Class of 2020, reality was much different. On Saturday, May 9th, campus sat quiet. Dorm rooms remained untouched, frozen in time the way our students had left them back in March. From remote offices across campus, however, Head of School Martin Mooney and several members of the Academy’s leadership team were busy at work, trying to prepare for Bridgton’s first-ever virtual commencement celebration. The class was recognized during this event, which aired via Facebook Live, on Thursday, May 14th. And while it was certainly not the same as a “real deal” Bridgton graduation, it gave the students and staff a moment to celebrate, a moment to say, “It’s official—you have completed what you set out to do.” Later this July, Bridgton hopes to host an additional celebration: the conferring of diplomas at a socially acceptable distance from the comfort of one’s own vehicle at the local drive-in movie theater.