Senior pick-up day celebrates new graduates with drive-thru ceremony


Provided by Office of Communications

Upper school computer science teacher Marina Peregrino and Eric Fang (’20) pose for a selfie at the drive-thru. As seniors drove through, they were able to return items and receive their gifts from masked faculty members stationed in tents.

by Lucy Ge, Winged Post News Editor

A rare sight was seen on Thursday at the upper school campus in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic: grinning faces of the graduating senior class and their families peering through car windows, greeted by cheers and applause from masked Harker faculty members. 

Seniors arrived on campus throughout the day to receive their graduation cap, gown and various other gifts, while also returning library books and athletic uniforms. 

Although the drive-thru was not held to replace the graduation ceremony, which has been postponed to Dec. 19, this event marked the end of an unexpectedly strange senior year for the new graduates, for whom the usual May in-person graduation, senior year prom experience, Laguna trip and in-person baccalaureate had all been cancelled.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty sad about [the way senior year ended],” Emiko Armstrong (‘20) said. “I’ve been going to Harker [for] thirteen years now. It’s just not the way you’d imagine it to end.”

But, Emiko added, she appreciated the effort the school put in to honor the graduating class. Along with her graduation cap and gown, she also received a gift from her Eagle Buddy, a letter from her freshman self, her Conservatory certificate program plaque, a bag of cookies in honor of former head of school Howard Nichols, her Dance Show pictures and alumni gear. 

Evan Cheng (‘20) also appreciated the gifts and found the drive-thru memorable. 

“There’s something about being back on campus, even if it’s only for a few minutes and even if it’s in our cars, that really made [the drive-thru] special and went a far way to provide some closure to our high school experience,” he said.

As members of the class of 2020 drove into the front loading zone, they were greeted by a row of school buses decorated with large posters of their senior portraits, along with an inflatable rainbow arch on the curb. Faculty members, donning colorful masks and stationed in tents set up in the parking lot, placed the graduation gifts in the trunks of the students’ cars and congratulated the seniors as they drove by.

Those who attended also had the opportunity to pick up items they had left on campus, such as orchestra instruments. Different 30-minute time slots for the drive-thru were assigned to each advisory. 

In this unusual time, the gifts and this drive-thru celebration served as a source of comfort and joy. For many of the new graduates, whether they will be able to set foot onto their college campuses in the fall remains uncertain. 

“By September, there’s still a chance that we could have in-person learning,” Sahil Jain (‘20) said. “But even if that’s not the case, I’m still just going to keep [being] optimistic and positive and just see how it goes, because at least our whole college process has gotten done, like everything is sort of set in stone.”

Pick-up days for other classes are scheduled on June 8 for juniors, June 9 for sophomores and June 11 for freshmen, with exact times yet to be determined. 

Additional reporting by Aditya Singhvi