As our community enters the final stretch of school, both virtually and on campus, there are so many things to celebrate and acknowledge during this time of ongoing change: our resilience, flexibility and empathy as a community, and our unwavering dedication to successful student learning. This year, we will also put a new spin on the many year-end traditions that are unique to and part of our #ASHexperience, bringing our community together as we celebrate achievements and transitions, and start to say goodbye.
High school traditions are at the forefront these weeks, focusing on connecting and celebrating our senior students as they move on to the next chapter in their young lives. Prom, an annual event not just at ASH but across the USA, sees Junior and Senior students let loose after weeks of intense studying for some well deserved fun. From the Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen to the Duin Hotel in Noordwijk, a grand location has usually been the key in setting the tone for this time honored tradition. This year, around the world prom has looked different and virtual creativity has taken hold!
Next on the calendar is the Senior Dinner, an ASH tradition which gives the upcoming graduating class the chance to come together for early evening dinner amongst their friends, classmates, parents, and staff. Unfortunately this cannot happen this year, but we know our seniors have enjoyed a special last year together at ASH and in times to come there will be the chance to celebrate more.
An event we saw come to light last year for the first time was the Senior Walk, where our seniors walked through the ASH hallways one last time in a procession that ended in the Sport Hall for their final graduation rehearsal. Led by the ASH marching band, ASH cheerleaders and Troy the Trojan, our seniors proudly processed past our youngest learners waving flags that displayed our seniors' names and wishes for good luck. This buzz of excitement carried through to the upper elementary hallways as students cheered and watched the seniors head towards the middle school, and ultimately make their way to the high school - their home territory - where they were met by the smiling faces of their supportive teachers and friends. Although we cannot continue this new tradition this year, we know that every member of the ASH community is cheering on our seniors as they move into their next phases of life.
Earlier today, our seniors met virtually with our juniors, sophomores, and freshmen in the presentation of the annual Academic Awards Ceremony, where they celebrate and recognize each other’s academic achievements. All of our students are given the chance to applaud the accomplishments of their friends and peers, and also themselves, for their hard work and dedication in the classroom and beyond during their school year. Click here to watch the awards ceremony. During this recorded awards ceremony, a video was also incorporated of JAKK, the ASH high school acapella group, who have persevered and connected virtually over their shared passion. Mr. Goldwasser, the high school choir teacher, said that on behalf of JAKK, “during these uncertain times, we would like to send you a beacon of good energy and a ray of positiveness your way.”
Our high school traditions wrap up with the most commanding of all - Graduation, this year on Saturday, June 6. While our socially distanced ceremony will look a bit different this year, the heart of it will remain the same celebrating the special moment of the graduation, with blue caps and gowns, gold tassels and of course, the energetic Class of 2020 ready to accept their diplomas. The graduating Seniors will convene on campus and take part in the ceremony in groups of up to 30 from different locations across campus, connected through technology, with safety for all in the forefront.
There are other beloved traditions taking shape in the middle and elementary schools: our grade 4 students will move up to the middle school during the symbolic bridge crossing ceremony that takes place on the last day of school. This ceremony celebrates our 4th graders and their successful transition to fifth grade, as they take a final walk over the UE cafeteria bridge into the hallways of the middle school. This year, our 4th graders have each been asked to submit a video of themselves and our ASH fairies have some plans in place for celebrating this tradition in a new way this year. Stay tuned for the final reveal!
Traditionally, grade 8 students step up into grade 9 in their annual ‘Grade 8 Promotion’ event, helping the students take note of their unforgettable memories made in middle school as they move up into the world of high school next year. This year, the high school student ambassadors will hold a virtual ‘Grade 8 Step Up Day’. The ambassadors will also have farewells for leaving students and faculty via videos and slideshows their classmates make for them. The ASH honored tradition of distributing clogs to leaving members of the community will carry on this year as well.
All of these celebrations, whether honored virtually, in person or through our memories, are what connect us together as part of our shared #ASHexperience.