Soccer Field Cap Toss
Atlanta Jewish Academy held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 on June 17. The event was originally planned for August but due to the constantly changing nature of COVID-19, was moved to June to make sure all the students could participate. The ceremony was held outside on the Ratner Soccer Field, with the students and their immediate families spread out to maintain proper social distancing.
The field was set up so that the families could be together and maintain that community feeling but with enough space to allow for safety. Although it was not a conventional graduation ceremony, the AJA faculty and staff wanted to celebrate the senior class in a meaningful way for the students.
The ceremony included a welcome from Board of Trustees President Carol Ratner; speeches from the valedictorian and salutatorians; a d’var Torah presented by two graduates, highlights and memories from the year; video wishes from the families; special tributes to each graduate; and words of wisdom from Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz.
The students had some of the classic elements of a graduation ceremony, as they were called on stage to receive their diplomas and the grade reps led the newest AJA alumni to move their tassels and toss their decorated caps in the air.
Sheila Jutan, parent of one of the graduates, commented about the ceremony.
“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the program and our seniors received the recognition and commencement they deserved. It was obvious how much hard work and attention went into the evening and we appreciated every bit of it.”
Even though the school year did not end like they imagined, the students felt honored and excited to have a live ceremony instead of a virtual one. Graduate Eliana Goldin spoke about her graduation experience. “When I first heard that graduation would be socially distanced, I just assumed that we would have a drive-by, and I was disappointed and underwhelmed. But our graduation ended up being incredible, even more extravagant with the raised stage and goodies than it would have been if the pandemic hadn’t happened.
“The administration and marketing team pulled off an incredible night that felt both refreshingly normal yet also revolutionary and unprecedented. I can’t wait to reminisce about the Class of 2020 graduation. I think we also showed just what kind of class we are. We were able to turn something that could have been a disappointment into something fun and special and frankly legendary. We’re a class of people who make the best of what we have and who can make anything fun and exciting.”
This event was the culmination of the hard work and dedication these students put into their high school careers. The AJA leaders felt that graduation was a rite of passage that needed to happen. Rabbi Leubitz said in his charge to the graduates, “With all the change that was forced upon you, you led our school; you kept our school spirit alive, and most of all, you did this with grace, kindness and humility.”
Kol hakavod to the AJA Class of 2020!
Paige Manieri is marketing communications specialist and Barrie Cohn is director of marketing and communications for AJA.
Park and Ride
The Weber School graduating Class of 2020 was honored June 7 with a unique and festive parking lot graduation event. Families gathered in cars, honking horns and flashing lights as students paraded across the stage, one at a time, to turn their tassels and receive their diplomas. It was an atypical celebration, but in true Weber fashion, was creative and memorable.
To ensure a safe and well-executed program, Weber engaged a professional production company to produce the event, complete with large outdoor screen displays, a big stage, and audio delivered over an FM radio station. The radio streaming allowed students to either lean out the windows or sunroofs of their cars or enjoy cool air conditioning and closed windows to not miss any of the pomp, circumstance and meaningful moments.
While most speakers were pre-recorded and displayed on the large screens, there were a few live student presenters at the event:
Ari Slomka, representing the class, delivered the d’var Torah; salutatorian Isaac Goldman presented “Head, Heart, and Hand,” and valedictorian Caroline Schneider, “Charge to the Class of 2020.”
Recorded student and faculty presenters included:
The Weber Chorus performing the national anthem and Hatikvah. Caroline Goldman also gave a musical performance.
A prayer for the welfare of the government of the United States was recited by Ben Reitman.
The prayer for the state of Israel: Tiffany Salzberg in Hebrew, Hannah Feldstein and Darcy Denneen in English.
Grad Frankie Grossman introduced faculty speaker Mike Nance, social studies teacher
The presentation of diplomas was led by Paul Ginburg, associate Head of School, and the opening and closing of the ceremony was led by Head of School Rabbi Ed Harwitz and Principal Shlaina Van Dyke.
- Back to School
- atlanta jewish academy
- Ratner Soccer Field
- High School
- Carol Ratner
- Rabbi Ari Leubitz
- Sheila Jutan
- Eliana Goldin
- Ari Slomka
- Isaac Goldman
- Caroline Schneider
- Caroline Goldman
- Ben Reitman
- Tiffany Salzberg
- Hannah Feldstein
- Darcy Denneen
- Frankie Grossman
- Mike Nance
- Paul Ginburg
- Ed Harwitz
- Shlaina Van Dyke
- The Weber School