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Class of 2020 Graduation
Class of 2020 Graduation

On May 16, 2020, a bright, sunny Saturday morning, all fears, worries, and anxious thoughts were cast aside as 48 young men and women experienced what some thought impossible - their real-time graduation ceremony.

Under the leadership of Head of School, Allen Lowe, and the hard work of many Deerfield Windsor School staff and teachers, twelve years of education, including two months of virtual school, culminated in a beautifully orchestrated, heart rendering graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.

The memorable occasion began as graduates walked their final journey as a high school student six feet apart down the track and across a stadium filled with classmates and family members. White chairs against a field of green, navy gowns under a cloudless blue sky, red and gold cords and tassels blowing in a slight breeze. A priceless moment. An historical event. A solid memory.

Deena Willcox opened the ceremony with her invocation that encouraged her classmates and those in attendance to "not look forward with fear of what we have experienced, or fear of what we do not know," but rather to look forward knowing as "we walk with [God] he will light our paths."

Upper School Principal Janet Guillebeau then presented the 2020 Honor Graduates as follows:

Charlotte Naomi Maylani Augenstein

Catherine Garner Bueschen

Gracen Amelia Carden

Carson McCleskey Chandler

Charles Holman Deriso Jr.

William Hodge Fox

Emilee Grace Foy

Kate Elizabeth Grundfast

Mychael Adonte' Hall

Jilian Maegan Hanna

Autumn Elise Hart

Jonathan Porter Hill

Hadley McLendon Holt

Yash Chirag Jani

Sarah Marie Mullins

Sara Frances Short

James William Tennyson

Abigail Rose Ungarino

Emma Grace Urick

Virginia Ellen Warrington

Deena Ray Willcox

McKinnon Elaina Wurst


She followed with the 2020 BETA Club graduates, who were:

Charlotte Naomi Maylani Augenstein

Catherine Garner Bueschen

Carson McCleskey Chandler

Charles Holman Deriso Jr.

William Hodge Fox

Emilee Grace Foy

Kate Elizabeth Grundfast

Mychael Adonte' Hall

Jilian Maegan Hanna

Autumn Elise Hart

Jonathan Porter Hill

Hadley McLendon Holt

Yash Chirag Jani

Sarah Marie Mullins

Sara Frances Short

James William Tennyson

Virginia Ellen Warrington

Deena Ray Willcox

McKinnon Elaina Wurst


Finishing her presentation, Mrs. Guillebeau honored the 30 students who had been at DWS since their educational beginnings:

Madison Jane Abel

Charlotte Naomi Maylani Augenstein

Patrick Earl Bass, Jr.

Catherine Garner Bueschen

Gracen Amelia Carden

Carson McCleskey Chandler

Bryce Keith Clenney

Mary Wallace Cromartie

Charles Holman Deriso, Jr.

Christina Avery Eakes

Michael Yarborough Edwards

Margaret Abigail Ellis

William Hodge Fox

Emilee Grace Foy

Mary Haley Hallford

Autumn Elise Hart

Jonathan Porter Hill

Hadley McLendon Holt

Allison Faith Iler

Yash Chirag Jani

Lila Margaret Lanier

Robert Lee Leach, Jr.

Joe Harris Morgan IV

Walker Reed Revell

Lillie Payton Senkbeil

Mary Kingsley Shepard

Virginia Ellen Warrington

Deena Ray Willcox

McKinnon Elaina Wurst

Robert Samuel Yarborough V

DWS Student Council President Anna Catherine Ivey presented the school with the gift of a digital message sign for the corner of Nottingham Way and Stuart Avenue. "We believe our gift is a significant investment in communication and will offer insights into who we are as a school as well as help us communicate better with our own students and families," explained Ivey.



Salutatorian Autumn Hart acknowledged that her class arrived at this moment after overcoming "a turbulent" journey, but as she explained, "Here we are, stepping somewhat confidently into another life phase, early adulthood... We are a hardy, tough group, and we are ready to face the challenges that will inevitably come our way."

As Valedictorian Porter Hill addressed the crowd with sage advice, subtle humor, and his own brand of encouragement, he too inspired his classmates not to dwell on what they missed, but to focus on what they had achieved. Hill proudly exclaimed that the last few months prove the adaptability and RESILIENCE of the Class of 2020. "We are a UNIQUE group that faced a UNIQUE challenge and we made it! As we move on to college, we are prepared. We know how to support each other, and we understand the importance of embracing challenges." Yet, perhaps his closing statement reflected his heartfelt view of the importance of an education from DWS as he shared from Warren Buffett: "Someone's sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago. Thank you to my parents, all of our families and the DWS faculty for planting trees for these 48 graduates."

As Head of School Allen Lowe began his remarks, he recognized the many staff and faculty who helped make this monumental moment a reality, and then presented a momento to Mrs. Debbie Allen, who is retiring from 33 years in education and 20 years of service to Deerfield Windsor School. Facing the graduates, Lowe called them the "Second Greatest Generation", and using words they had chosen to describe their own class, he addressed the 48 future leaders. "You have the tools. You have learned in the classroom (sure), but you have learned life lessons that my generation did not. Use these tools. Go out and lead."

And with those words of wisdom, the 48 members of the Class of 2020 marched across the stage in flowing navy gowns, under a brilliant cloudless sky, against a white curtain planted in the green grass of the football field that held many memories of their years at DWS, and received a navy blue cover holding the official document that indicated they were engaged in a rite of passage in a time like no other.

Leaving the place that felt like home for many years, one by one, each graduate met family members and together, left behind a field of memories only to begin a field of dreams. As the last senior parted through the gate, these words, shared by these students as they reflected on the Class of 2020, seemed to resonate throughout the stadium: Dependability, love, family, resilience,connection, optimistic, unprecedented,sincere, supportive, legendary, perseverant, loyal, friendship, positivity,unforgettable, overcoming, determined.