As Westport reopens, and the world continues to turn — if a bit wobbly — you continue to send us your work. Your many moods are reflected in your paintings, collages, sketches, photos, sculptures, cartoons and videos.
Please keep ’em coming. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Student submissions are particularly welcome!
The only rule: It must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Feeling Trapped in the Illusion of Summer” (Lauri Weiser)
Dereje Tarrant is a rising 8th grader at the Pierrepont School. He created this mural, which hangs outside his Westport home.
“When Life Gives You Lemons” (acrylic, Herm Freeman)
Weston High School asked Andrea Metchick to paint a mural for the Class of 2020. She asked principal Lisa Wolak, staff and parents for words that represented the students. Her work was hung on the Onion Barn near Weston center for the graduation parade; it’s still there. It was a gift of love: Andrea’s youngest child, Millie, was in that class.
Untitled (Carina Bockhaus, age 9, Kings Highway Elementary School)
Early yesterday afternoon, Eliza Donovan graduated from Lehigh University.
It was not the ceremony she envisioned. The 2016 Staples High School alum left campus in mid-March. She and her classmates finished their college careers at home, clouded by COVID and a changed world.
Commencement took place virtually. There was a cappella music, a slideshow, and a symbolic conferring of degrees.
Almost as soon as it was over, Eliza really graduated.
She’s lucky to have a fun-loving, creative family, with 5 siblings and ton of nearby cousins. She’s lucky they all love Lehigh (her father Dan and uncles Dave and Doug went there too). She’s lucky they wanted to celebrate in style.
Festive touches everywhere.
So at 3 p.m., Eliza’s extended family assembled in their back yard. There was a program on every seat.
“Pomp and Circumstance” played. Eliza marched in. Her brother Johnny welcomed everyone, and delivered a commencement speech. He wished her well as she went off into the world — though he reminded her to wear a face mask, and stay within her safe social bubble.
Johnny Donovan delivers a commencement address. His 2017 Staples High graduation gown, mortarboard and sash came in handy.
Eliza’s father gave a speech too, then presented the diplomas — er, diploma. (It was his old one, with her name taped over his.)
What a treat! Eliza Donovan receives her diploma from her father.
She was cited as valedictorian. Hey, she had the highest GPA of any graduate at that ceremony.
Eliza’s mother Nicole gave the benediction.
Toasting the graduate, with a variety of beverages.
It was the way a graduation should be: short and sweet. And very personal.
There were no honorary degrees conferred on wealthy contributions. No one had to yell “Sit down – I can’t see!” No one passed out, sitting for hours in a hot stadium.
Those first few wonderful moments after Eliza receives her degree.
And when it was over, Eliza — a championship diver — started a new tradition. She dove into the pool.
Then — as the “graduation program” noted — the proud graduate’s family invited everyone to a celebratory reception.
More than 3 million high school students will not have a traditional graduation this spring.
But the COVID-stricken Class of 2020 will have something no other group could dream of: a televised national commencement address from Barack Obama.
And those millions of students have one person to thank: fellow senior Lincoln Debenham.
He’ll be graduating with them from Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock High School. But he grew up in Westport and spent 2 years at Staples High School, before moving with his parents to California.
Lincoln Debenham …
In mid-April Lincoln tweeted an invitation to the former president, to deliver a commencement address. It quickly earned hundreds of thousands of likes, and retweets.
This afternoon, Obama said “sure!”
In fact, he’ll do more than one.
“Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” is an hour-long, multi-platform event. It airs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 16 on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and other broadcast and digital streaming partners.
Special guests include LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R. and Ben Platt.
On Saturday, June 6 (3 p.m.), Obama and his wife Michelle will take part in YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020.” The couple will deliver separate commencement addresses.
They’ll be joined an array of leaders from many fields, including Malala Yousafzai, Sundar Pichai, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington.
… and Barack Obama.
Obama will also participate in “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a 2-hour event May 16 for students at historically black colleges and universities.
Lincoln heard the news from his mother — not the Obamas. Still, he’s stoked.
“This means a whole lot to me,” he told ABC News.
“The class of 2020 as well as anybody who wants to tune in are going to hear inspiration and uplifting words from these two amazing people who my generation grew up following. It’s what need right now and I’m glad Mr. and Mrs. Obama were so kind to agree to do it.”
As for Lincoln: He’s headed to California State University in Los Angeles.
And perhaps, a great career as a media influencer.
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