From London to Seattle to Austin, comments poured in from Odyssey supporters who watched our first-ever online graduation ceremony last month: “You pulled the rabbit out of the hat and created magic under the direst circumstances.” “Your beautiful and amazing Odyssey 2020 graduates addressed the camera with such confidence and poise.” “This wonderful graduation ceremony was so moving and powerful, with such pride and love and heart! Oh, and the balloons!”
What a relief! We confess to nightmares that hundreds of students and supporters were waiting for us to start the graduation ceremony but my computer kept saying “You have low bandwidth” and “Your internet connection is unstable.” We’re happy that several hundred people could join us and hear all our eloquent students share inspiring comments and poems. We do apologize to those supporters who tried to connect but ran into insurmountable barriers. The good news is that we have recordings of the program (coming soon), a copy of what each student read, and both print and TV stories about the ceremony on our graduation webpage.
During the ceremony, many of our students were surrounded by their children. Rasaki’s daughter Nyjua wrapped her arm around him as he read, “My kids can see my footprints to better myself every day.” Ashley said to her son, who handed her some toothpaste in the middle of her speech, “I went back to school because you needed to see me do it. Everything I do is for our future.” Tina’s children heard her say triumphantly, “This is that moment where you get to stand tall and say how proud you are because you did it!” After each student shared a reading, we closed our ceremony with a class poem, photos, the music of On Wisconsin, and a video celebrating the Odyssey Junior Class of 2020.
Many thanks to all those who pitched in to sponsor graduating students by treating them to a delivered meal, certificates, yearbooks, books, and writing materials! We have a long road ahead as we work with our nearly 500 alumni on how best to keep going on our graduates’ journeys during these perilous times, but we can all look back to the magic of our first-ever virtual graduation ceremony.