Maden Herve is a senior at Wilton High School [and the son of GMW editor Heather Borden Herve]. He asked to publish a guest commentary and share his thoughts as a member of the Class of 2020.

My name is Maden Herve, and I am a student in the WHS Class of 2020. I’m not a member of the graduation committee, and I’d consider myself a typical student in this year’s senior class. As an interested observer of the conversation surrounding graduation that has been playing out over the past couple weeks, the recent escalation of the intensity of discussion has compelled me to offer my thoughts.

First off, I want to acknowledge that many students, parents, and community members will have opinions that differ from mine. I understand that a traditional graduation is extremely important to some people, and that seeing your child walk across the stage in front of hundreds of other people is meaningful to some parents in the community. Whether it be the gratitude, attention, or feeling of achievement that a student or parent gets when they participate in a typical Graduation ceremony, each of us in some way wished and looked forward to having that experience.

But the reality of the situation is that this year is very different from ‘typical’. An unpredictable, cataclysmic event occurred that disrupted everything, changing the way we will be able to experience graduation. The fact of the matter is that not everyone will be appeased with the Graduation format being planned for this year.

I want to offer perspective. Let us remember that these are unprecedented times. My fellow students and I know and are friends with several classmates who have lost family members to COVID-19. I, too, have family members who have been affected as well. I also know students who physically won’t be able to attend whatever ceremony we have, as the means of transportation they’d need to take to be here puts them and their loved ones at risk of exposure.

But then I look closer at what the WHS community has been in conflict about for the past few weeks. This conflict, in my mind, does not compare in magnitude whatsoever to what’s occurring in the world right now. I’ve seen Facebook exchanges with fingers pointed, blame thrown, and insults posted behind backs. This makes me question the community’s priorities. Is this debate over how you or your child will be celebrated worth arguing about when there is a crisis that’s taking lives in our world, our country, and our town? What does it say about us when we prioritize the manner in which we are celebrated over the safety of each person who is being celebrated?

Recently, a classmate posted to a private Class of 2020 Facebook group and pointed out how morale is taking a hit, and that we are divided over an event whose purpose is to unite us. The longer this conflict continues, the worse the memory we’ll have of this whole graduation experience. As a reminder, the goal of this effort was to try and make the experience “the best possible” for each senior. But as my classmate described, it’s caused a divide between parents, students, and administration instead.

In the long run, it isn’t worth debating over which plan to choose for a graduation ceremony. In 10 years, we’ll look back, and simply acknowledge that we graduated. We’ll have started our careers, made new friends, and lived through new experiences, and we’ll remember how we navigated and survived these unparallelled times more than a graduation ceremony alone.

I understand that for many of my peers, they feel unappreciated and unrecognized for the extremely hard work that they’ve put in over the past 13 years. When I say the ceremony isn’t important, I’m not downplaying their feelings; instead I’m emphasizing what most of us care about:  recognition and appreciation.

For some, the ceremony equates to recognition, and I understand that, but for many of us, the largest and most public celebration isn’t the one where we feel most appreciated. From my perspective, the recognition of the hard work doesn’t need the spectacle of a ceremony. The real celebration comes from being with our closest friends and family, and acknowledging that we did it, that we’ve accomplished everything we’ve set out to achieve in our lives up to now.

To my fellow members of the class of 2020, you are all appreciated and you don’t need 1,000 faces staring at you in the stadium to tell you that. For the parents, and everyone else who is currently arguing, it isn’t doing anyone any good. Arguing, demanding, and criticizing only make it worse, instead of cheering us up at a time when we are in need of happiness and being lifted up.

The graduation committee has been working extremely hard, and they are trying to figure out logical, realistic solutions in this tough time. Please keep a healthy perspective and join me in wishing congratulations to my fellow members of the Class of 2020.

Wilton High School senior Andrew Smith is a member of the committee comprised of school administrators, parents, and students who have been planning graduation, which will be very different this year in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Tentative plans were communicated to members of the Class of 2020 on Sunday afternoon, to mixed reaction. Smith posted a message to his classmates in response and has allowed GOOD Morning Wilton to publish it.

Hey everyone! I do not want to be controversial so I’m sorry if this comes off as harsh at all. That being said, I think we all need to relax. I get it, we have all worked extremely hard for years and now we don’t even get to have fun the second semester of our senior year. Our graduation, prom, PGP, etc, have all been ruined. Even though we can make every adjustment possible, it still won’t be the same.

Everyone’s disappointed and they have a right to be upset. But, we need to recognize that there are bigger issues going on in the world right now. People are dying and losing jobs, so I don’t think all of this drama over our graduation is truly justified.

We had meetings for people to voice their opinions–no one showed. We sent out surveys–less than half of the grade responded. We can blame everybody we want but that solves absolutely nothing. We can blame town officials all we want but they are just trying to ensure everyone’s safety. And for our administrators, they are actually working extremely hard. I’m not trying to suck up to them but blaming them is definitely not justified.

Instead of arguing about all of this and ruining the small amount of what we have left of our senior year, can we please just relax and understand that everyone in our school is doing everything in their power to make the best graduation possible. I understand that people think the school has done nothing for our class, but we are simply trying to work out the best–and safest–graduation possible. We are trying to think through every possible scenario to determine which graduation format will make us happy and safe. I know a lot of other schools have made plans, but frankly they probably won’t even happen or they will go poorly.

I hope to see everyone soon.

3 replies on “Two WHS Seniors Offer Commentary on Graduation: “Blaming Everybody Solves Absolutely Nothing” & “Keeping Perspective””

  1. These young men’s comments reflect the quality of their upbringing and their education. We should be proud of them and be especially aware of the substance of their messages. They, as will the rest of our graduates, do well.

  2. Hey Maden/Andrew, Thanks for your well presented thoughts. Your overall maturity and attitude are indicative of a fine upbringing and a superior education. Best of luck to the both of you and all of the members of the WHS Class of 2020 – we’re very proud of all that you’ve achieved and we look forward to seeing what you will do for all of us going forward!

  3. Very heartening and inspiring to read these statements. These two high school seniors set an example for us all with their maturity, their ability to accept the current situation and to see the bigger picture.

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