The 2021 Senior Awards & Bell Ceremony

The 2021 Senior Awards & Bell Ceremony

Around the end of every school year, the school begins to prepare for the graduation of its senior class. In the build-up to graduation, two big events occur, those being the senior walk and the senior awards. The former is also known as the bell ceremony, as seniors break the infamous Graded myth which states that “if you walk under the bell, you will never graduate” by walking beneath the bell and ringing it. Meanwhile, the senior awards recognize and reward excellence in a variety of subjects, similar to how the Oscars or Grammys give awards in a variety of categories. In a way, the bell ceremony is similar to the red carpet, whilst the senior awards ceremony is a lot like major awards ceremonies such as the Oscars or Grammys. Despite the difficult circumstances exacerbated by COVID-19, these two events continued and were able to run similarly to how they did in previous years. 

One huge aspect of the red carpet is fashion, which was also prevalent at both the bell ceremony and the senior awards. Though there wasn’t anything quite on the caliber of Lady Gaga’s meat dress, many students were able to express their creativity and humor through the hats they wore. Rather than wearing the typical black cap and gown, the cap was replaced by a hat of the student’s choice. A few interesting designs included a hat in the shape of the poop emoji, a skating helmet with a GoPro attached to it, and a wide variety of animals and superhero themed hats, which were all shown off as students rang the bell and collected their respective awards.

In contrast, the teachers were all formally dressed; while this wasn’t a change for some teachers, it was for others. Mr. Trotter, for instance, wore a formal shirt and tie, greatly differing from his typical Friday attire of a fashionable Hawaiian T-shirt. A few chose to dress as they normally do, though; Mr. Vergara chose to embody the Graded spirit by wearing his usual Graded gear.

There was one party that was noticeably absent, that being the families of the graduating class. Due to the school’s COVID restrictions, those who aren’t students or staff are not allowed on campus, consequently resulting in a much smaller audience, to the extent that the event was held in the Student Center Amphitheatre, as opposed to the previous venue of the Athletics Center. While juniors were likely grateful for a smaller audience, as the ringing of the bell was already a sufficiently big distraction during the middle of their assessments, it was evident that the size of the celebrations was nowhere near as big as it had been previously. This was made evident throughout the bell ceremony, which normally results in mass crowding around the bell area as parents flock to take photos of their kids; this year, though, there were far fewer people physically present at the event. However, while the attending body was smaller, the enthusiasm was just as big as it had been without a pandemic; students cheered each other on even louder than before to make up for the smaller numbers, whilst teachers delivered powerful speeches about the stellar students they had taught for the past two years. Additionally, while the celebration at school was more subdued, there were plenty of festivities going on throughout the city of São Paulo, as well as across the globe, as family members were able to tune in to the ceremonies through a livestream which captured the energetic spirit on display.

As for the awards, there were a plethora of students recognized for their hard work and achievements throughout their time in the IB and at Graded. Whilst most awards focused on academic subjects, a few also focused on extracurricular activities and the essence of what it means to be a student at Graded, as well as a member of today’s society. There is no doubt that many students were worthy of winning the awards, but the winners absolutely deserved the recognition they received, as their teachers praised them for both their ability as students and who they are as a person. One huge plus of the senior awards in comparison to the most recent Oscars is that the winners are actually well-known; no one was familiar with any of the winners of the latest Academy Awards, whereas the winners of the senior awards are well-respected members of the community.

Overall, the senior awards and bell ceremony were a great way to honor all the work the graduating class has done, both as students and as members of the community. Congratulations to the Class of 2021!