Although the seniors’ high school experiences took place mostly at 4200 Davenport Street—and, for a time, in their homes—it was in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, on Sunday, June 12, that their GDS careers came to a close.
Graduates and teachers gathered in an area beneath the entrance hall as other attendees waited outside. Senior Ben Finkelstein, in an interview there, said the moment was bittersweet. “It hit me in the car on my way here,” he said. “I got a little sad. I was just thinking about how high school went by so fast.”
Science Department Chair Nina Butler-Roberts described the mood among faculty as excited. “This is what we all work for,” she said. “Everything we do is about getting the kids to the finish line.”
Bobby Asher, a longtime teacher and the director of student life and wellness, told the Bit, “There is an element of joy here that is palpable.”
Meanwhile, upstairs, when doors opened at 1:30 p.m., families and other guests passed through a bag check and had their tickets scanned before taking their seats. Those security measures were put in place because of the parent speaker, Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Attendees could choose their own seats in the 1500-seat Lisner Auditorium, though many near the front were reserved for faculty.
Some GDS lower/middle school teachers took advantage of the ticket to which they were entitled, even though some would not normally attend high school graduation. Fourth-grade teacher Julia Tomasko ’05, who recalled her own GDS graduation in the same venue, told the Bit as she entered that she came “to hear Ketanji Brown Jackson speak and to be in the same room as her.”
The seniors walked to the front of the Gelman Library, less than a block away, to pose for their class photo, then returned to line up for the procession.
Seniors filed into the auditorium, marched down the aisle and walked to their seats in lines on either side of the stage. A band of juniors played “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Photography was not permitted during the ceremony, which featured speeches, musical performances and the handing out of diplomas. Afterwards, graduates and audience members poured out of the building.
The school hosted a reception on the adjacent Kogan Plaza, where seniors took photos, ate food and talked with friends and family.