Seniors graduate, have ‘symbolic ending’ to Archer experience


Photo credit: Emily Hernandez

Student Body President Langdon Janos (’22) introduces the commencement speaker, Hannah Minghella. The Class of 2022 had their in person graduation Friday, May 27, at the Skirball Cultural Center.

By Audrey Chang, News Editor

After their sophomore year was interrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown and their junior year was almost completely online, the Class of 2022 was able to reconnect for their senior year and attend an in-person graduation ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments and the challenges they have overcome.

Graduation took place Friday, May 27, at the Skirball Cultural Center. Prior to the ceremony, the seniors went to Archer to take photos together. They continued Archer’s tradition of wearing white attire and flower crowns. Last year, the Class of 2021 graduated in Archer’s courtyard, and all attendees were required to wear masks for the entire event. This year, masks were optional for the graduates and required for guests in the audience.

The ceremony officially started at 11:00 a.m., beginning with the processional, which was followed by a welcome speech from Head of School Elizabeth English. The ceremony was also livestreamed for friends and family who were unable to attend in person. There were additional events for the seniors during the week leading up to graduation, including the Senior Tea Party Tuesday, May 24, and the Senior Farewell Thursday, May 26.

“It means a lot, especially because we’re lucky to be able to have an in-person graduation,” senior Naya Ben-Meir said. “I’m really thankful that we’ve gotten to a place with COVID where we’re able to do this… it means a lot to me that we’re able to do all these traditions — not just graduation, but everything leading up to it.” 

Since the Class of 2022 only had one full year of high school in person other than their senior year, many seniors felt especially sad saying goodbye to their classmates because they didn’t have a lot of time to spend together in person.

I want to start by acknowledging that you have been through a lot in the last three years. Your road to graduation has been harder than anyone could have imagined. It has required incredible grace, resiliency, flexibility and patience.”

— Hannah Minghella, Commencement Speaker

“For our grade, [graduation] means new beginnings for everyone, but I also think very bittersweet goodbyes because we didn’t get a lot of time to spend with each other in person, so we’ve just gotten very close as a grade this year,” senior Lily Miro said. “And so now, we have to say goodbye, and although we’re all starting a new chapter, it’s going to be really hard.” 

The seniors sang two songs during graduation: “Slipping Through my Fingers” by ABBA and the school song “Within the Walls of Archer” by Marilyn and Alan Bergman after the awarding of diplomas. Senior Katelyn Chi said that the songs felt representative of the seniors’ time at Archer coming to an end.

“[I’m excited for] the main point of celebrating all our accomplishments and where we are now and how much we’ve facilitated each other’s growth,” Chi said. “I’m also really excited to see everyone walk down and reunite with their families, and I think  the best song we’ll be singing is ‘Within the Walls of Archer.’ I’m not the best singer, but I think it’s [a] more symbolic ending to our experience.” 

Following the welcome speech by English, senior Ava Rothenberg addressed her fellow seniors. In her speech, she talked about bonding moments among her grade after coming back to school in person for their senior year, such as supporting each others’ art and playing card games together throughout the year.

“In each shuffled sound, the whispered echo of a promise we all made to each other silently, sometime in our shared resume, that when we came back, it would be in full. Once we didn’t have to use our computers, we would close them; we would play,” Rothenberg said. “After losing the perfected projections of ourselves held so sacred by teenage girls, after months without regular social norms to shape them, we embrace more genuine versions of each other.”

After Rothenberg’s speech, English teacher James Russo addressed the seniors and emphasized the importance of this moment and their togetherness.

“Class of 2022 — remember this moment. Treasure it close to your hearts,” Russo said. “You are most certainly engaged in this world and ready to face all of the joys and the challenges that lie before you. I hope you continue to embrace the real and the true.” 

Student Body President Langdon Janos (’22) introduced the commencement speaker, Hannah Minghella. Minghella is President of Motion Pictures at Bad Robot, and some of her former roles include serving as the Director of Creative Affairs at Sony Pictures Entertainment and President of Production for Columbia Pictures. Minghella is a founding member of the Los Angeles Women’s Collective, and she attended the North London Collegiate School for Girls in England. She said that attending an all-girls school was a “wonderful” and “formative” experience for her.

“Today you’re graduating with a wonderful education, and you’re graduating with the knowledge that you can endure and survive even during the most unpredictable and challenging times,” Minghella said. “You’re entering a world filled — as we saw this week — with unspeakable tragedy and suffering, but also — and I know it can be hard to see sometimes — incredible hope and opportunity and the ability to change what is not right when you see it. And I know that you will because you’ve been taught how to do that here at Archer.”