Online matriculation ceremony marks the start of 2020-21 school year


Provided by Office of Communications

Associated Student Body President Jason Lin records his speech for the virtual matriculation ceremony, as head of school Brian Yager looks on. Jason touched upon ways that the Harker community has stayed connected during quarantine.

by Lucy Ge, Winged Post News Editor

Upper school students viewed a video put together by Harker administrators, student council and honor council on Friday during the online matriculation ceremony. 

Head of school Brian Yager delivered the opening speech, encouraging freshmen to look to upperclassmen for guidance and inspiration. Head of upper school Butch Keller touched upon the concepts of “toughness” and “success” and addressed the importance of sustaining momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement. Associated Student Body (ASB) Vice President Arusha Patil read the matriculation oath and ASB President Jason Lin (12) gave a 5-minute speech.

Jason praised the Harker community for coming up with innovative ways of virtually bonding during shelter-in-place, from checking in with each other to building a replica of the school campus on Minecraft. 

“It is precisely in times of struggle that the true nature of a community is revealed,” he said in his speech. “When we, the Harker community, were disrupted, we revealed our true nature is to care. We cared not just about ourselves, but about issues beyond the physical limitations of a school campus.”

Senior Alexander Kumar sang Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up” — “a fitting song” for this uncertain and turbulent time, Keller remarked. The class councils and honor council all prepared short skits to introduce the freshman class to the upper school. The junior council based their music video on Aladdin’s “A Whole New World,” showing viewers around campus and singing about the different buildings. 

It’s a different experience because you’re doing it with your advisory, but I think the video made it feel like you were with the whole school. Even though it was online, you still felt like part of the community.

— Ethan Joseph (10)

Junior council vice president Ayan Nath, who helped put together the video with his council members in about five days, found that editing the voice recordings and music from home was a “big learning curve.” Although the council was initially supposed to film the video from school, they had to work from home due to the worsening local coronavirus situation.

“If there’s another school event that we have to [produce a video for] in the future, I think we’d be much more prepared,” Ayan said. “We’d have a much better idea of what we should be doing, what we shouldn’t be doing, and things like that. The biggest takeaway is that we gained a lot of experience.”

Honor council’s skit, based on the theme of Tom and Jerry, encouraged viewers not to plagiarize and to uphold academic integrity. The senior council based their skit on Avatar the Last Airbender and discussed the role of Harker spirit at the upper school. 

“I thought it was incredible that they were able to put this together through the quarantine,” Shayla He (9) said. “It shows that even through these restricted times and these odd circumstances, you can still accomplish a lot of things.”

Ethan Joseph (10) especially liked the Madagascar-themed sophomore council skit and the sense of community that the video brought.

“It’s a different experience because you’re doing it with your advisory instead of the whole school, but I think the video made it feel like you were with the whole school,” he said. “Even though it was online, you still felt like part of the community.”

Although upper school chemistry teacher Dr. Mala Raghavan missed being able to see advisees in person and cheer on the freshmen as they walked in, she did enjoy the matriculation ceremony and the benefits of being online.

“Every year, we can’t hear the skits if you’re sitting in the back and you don’t know what’s happening and it’s not very clear — all of that was great this time,” she said.

After virtual matriculation, students attended their first class meeting of the school year. Freshmen also attended a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion assembly and their tech orientation after class meeting.