Peter Benjamin Studios
Reflecting on 150 years of graduation traditions at WHS
May 31, 2018
Each June family and friends from close by and far away travel to the center of Weston to watch students in white dresses and white dinner jackets receive their high school diplomas. 2018 marks the 150th WHS graduation and will showcase many of Weston’s unique traditions that have withstood the test of time.
Director of student health services and Field School nurse Patricia Wright is very experienced with WHS graduations and was a former WHS student in the class of 1971. After 27 years of service in the Weston Public School district, Wright plans on retiring at the end of this year. According to Wright, recent graduations at WHS remind her very much of her own in 1971.
“The graduating seniors lined up at St. Julia’s [Catholic Church] instead of the Town Hall, where they are now. The setup was exactly the same, including the board with the flowers that spelled 1971,” Wright said. “I remember the feeling, the senses. I remember the church bell ringing at five o’clock promptly, the light traffic, and the soft breeze.”
Wright is not the only WHS alum with a fond memory for her graduation and its time-honored traditions. Having graduated from WHS in 2011, patrol officer and alum Henry Gula appreciates the unique tradition of the white dresses and dinner jackets instead of the standard cap and gown.
“While every other high school is looking just like any old graduation from any school in any town, there’s no mistaking or forgetting Weston’s graduation. You’ll look back and be proud that your school did it differently – and better,” Gula said.
Thinking back, Wright described the moment the seniors flowed down the stairs to the grass of the Town Green as a meaningful memory from her own graduation.
“It made the whole journey come full circle,” Wright said. “Logistically, seniors walking out, as families respectfully stayed seated, allowed for families to make easier arrangements to meet their graduate afterwards.”
Forty-seven years later, WHS has decided that families should remain respectfully in their seats instead of standing, to uphold this tradition.
Regarding end-of-the-year festivities, the senior class overnight is another tradition that has endured the test of time. In more recent years, the overnight has been a surprise to the graduating seniors. However, Wright said that her classmates all planned their own trip during her senior year.
“It’s a night for your class to come together one last time as a tight knit group. Our dinner was a barbecue by the middle school pool. We played volleyball at the middle school and sat on a nice, grassy area after swimming in the pool,” Wright said.
Gula also reflected on the magic of his overnight trip and the sentimentality of the last night with his class.
“Most of the class is there, and during the night at some point I realized that this was the last time this group of people would likely all be together at once. This group that started out 12 years before would now break apart and go their separate ways,” Gula said.
For the graduating seniors, Wright advised them to soak up their last moments and not think of anything else. Having been to numerous graduations, Wright reflected on the magic of watching each new graduating class.
“What you hear and listen to that day, that piece stayed with me. Every time I go to graduation, I remember how special it is that graduation takes place in such a gorgeous setting.”