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Sunday, Dec 4, 2022

Feb graduation to continue with some restrictions in place

Middlebury will hold the Feb graduation celebration ceremony followed by the ski-down procession for the class of 2021.5 class on Feb. 5. The ceremony will be the first traditional graduation ceremony for a Feb class since the 2019.5 class (pictured here) due to the pandemic. (Courtesy of Sarah Asch)
Middlebury will hold the Feb graduation celebration ceremony followed by the ski-down procession for the class of 2021.5 class on Feb. 5. The ceremony will be the first traditional graduation ceremony for a Feb class since the 2019.5 class (pictured here) due to the pandemic. (Courtesy of Sarah Asch)

Middlebury is planning to hold the Feb graduation celebration ceremony followed by the ski-down procession for the Class of 2021.5 on Feb. 5, making the celebration the first traditional graduation ceremony for a Feb class since the one held for the 2019.5 class in February of 2020. 

The event will be modified to accommodate current Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. In past years, the ceremony was held in the Middlebury Chapel, the same location as convocation for incoming Febs. This year, according to Molly Andres, interim director of the Event Management Office and member of the Feb Celebration Committee, the celebration will take place in Virtue Field House due to its more open setting and a higher quality ventilation system. 

The larger venue is also helpful for hosting graduation for a larger-than-normal Feb class. Due to students taking semesters off during the pandemic, this year’s Feb class has grown to 190 people, whereas a typical Feb class has about 115 students. 

After skiing down the Snow Bowl, graduates and their families usually attend brunch in Proctor Dining Hall. That meal will be “to-go” to accommodate Covid-19 safety precautions, with seating available in the McCullough tent. While guest limits will not be in effect during the graduation ceremony, guests will be expected to adhere to health precautions in order to attend. 

“Our invited guests are expected to comply with the current campus guidelines which include being fully vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors and staying home and watching remotely if they have tested positive for Covid-19 ten days prior to the event or have any Covid-19 symptoms,” Andres said in an email to The Campus. 

Some pre-graduation events planned for students in January have been eliminated completely due to Covid-19 and staffing shortages in the Student Activities Office. According to Feb Celebration Committee member Kaleb Patterson ’21.5, there was initially supposed to be a semi-formal mixer, a ski day and a dance party for students during the month of January, but all were canceled due to pandemic restrictions. Despite the modifications, Ward feels grateful for the commitment the school is showing thus far toward holding the ceremony. 

“It makes me really happy because the last couple of years it seems like they were pretty willing to cancel everything,” Ward said.“So I’m glad that [this year] they are really pushing to make it happen.”

Though the event will have to be adapted to adhere to pandemic safety precautions, many students in the Class of 2021.5 expressed acceptance for the limitations of the present circumstances. 

Ben Beese ’21.5 said that he was most excited to celebrate his four years at Middlebury with both his friends and family but has grown used to limiting expectations. 

“I think that I’d like to have some sort of celebration, but I also understand that at this point it's the expectation that things are different than we may have expected, so I won’t be surprised if it changes,” Beese said.

Some students, however, say that the school should have been more transparent with students about the status of the event. “I'm still a little apprehensive that they are going to cancel last minute… I wish they would be more clear about whether or not there is a chance that they will cancel it," Patterson said.

Andres remained optimistic about the celebration because the current logistics — such as access to Virtue Field House, skiing, snowboarding or hiking down the mountain in caps and gowns, and an outdoor meal — all currently align with Covid-19 guidelines. Andres urged students and family to refer to the Feb Celebration website for updates and questions regarding the status of the event.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Kaleb Patterson '21.5 as Kaleb Ward. The error has been corrected.


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