Accredited online private school organizes virtual celebrations as traditional year-end events are cancelled due to COVID-19 crisis
WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Laurel Springs School, a leading pioneer in online K-12 education, held virtual National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) inductions, a graduation ceremony, and prom as part of its Year-End Celebrations from Wednesday, June 3, to Friday, June 5. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the events were moved online, although they are traditionally held in-person and were originally slated this year for Anaheim, California.
An induction ceremony for NHS and NJHS was held on Wednesday, June 4, with Laurel Springs leadership live-streaming speeches. The school’s NHS and NJHS Chapter student leaders addressed inductees about the pillars associated with membership: scholarship, service, leadership, character, and citizenship. Current and graduating members were also recognized and honored.
Laurel Springs then celebrated the Class of 2020 during a virtual graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 4. The event featured addresses from both school and Student Government leadership as well as a commencement speech from astronaut, chemist, and emergency physician Anna Lee Fisher. Graduates were recognized and music was live-streamed via Zoom while celebratory banner and yard sign templates, graduation gifts, diploma cases, and caps and gowns were sent to graduates in advance to complete their at-home commemorations.
“You have reached an important milestone, and now it is time for you to lead the charge into a world that none of us can predict—you have already proven you have the aptitude and strength to shine a light on a path to the future,” said Megan O’Reilly Palevich, M.Ed., Head of School at Laurel Springs, in her address to graduates. “It is up to you to teach the rest of us how to follow your lead.”
Days after SpaceX and NASA launched astronauts into space from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011, Fisher delivered the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony. The “First Mother in Space” provided graduates with a checklist of reminders to keep with them throughout their lives, including that all people are a part of “Spaceship Earth.”
“With the advent of space tourism with Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin, I am hopeful that as more people get to see the earth from the same vantage point as astronauts have been privileged to see, more people will realize [that] we are all more alike than we are different, and that we are citizens of this beautiful ‘Spaceship Earth,’” she said.
Fisher finished her speech by recognizing that graduates are prepared for a lifetime of success thanks to their education.
“As a Laurel Springs graduate, you can indeed accomplish what you set out to do,” she said. “With the pandemic, all of our lives have been turned upside down, but in a strange twist of fate, you are perhaps among the best prepared to adapt to this new set of circumstances.”
“I can confidently say that nobody is more equipped to face what lies ahead than Laurel Springs School’s Class of 2020,” said Palevich. “The world needs you. Now, more than ever before, it needs people who are thinkers, people who are globally minded, and it needs people who are willing to take the first step.”
To close the week’s celebrations, Laurel Springs students were invited to enjoy a virtual prom on Friday, June 5. Leading up to the event, students participated in a prom background contest based on the theme, “Prom at Home.” Prom-night festivities included a “red carpet” greeting for students, live-streamed music and visual effects from a DJ, and virtual rooms where students could hang out and play games.
“Our student Prom Committee worked hard to bring the fun of an in-person prom to our students’ homes,” said Rachelle Wafer, Student Engagement Manager at Laurel Springs. “With all that is going on around us, Laurel Springs is happy to provide students with a sense of normalcy and camaraderie.”
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