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For First Time in Three Years, Residential Houses Hold In-Person Festivities for Graduating Seniors

Eliot House celebrated its seniors at its first house-wide graduation ceremonies since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eliot House celebrated its seniors at its first house-wide graduation ceremonies since before the Covid-19 pandemic. By Aiyana G. White
By Isabella B. Cho and Claire Yuan, Crimson Staff Writers

Members of the College’s Class of 2022 made ceramic tiles, kayaked, and enjoyed ice cream during the first in-person graduation festivities since 2019.

Following the University’s Commencement exercises on Thursday, each undergraduate house held its own graduation ceremony, during which graduating seniors received their diplomas.

House administrators, resident deans, and student volunteers planned the celebrations and lauded the revival of house spirit and traditions.

Leslie Rith-Najarian ’12, the resident dean of Kirkland House, acknowledged the unique challenges faced by the Class of 2022 and commended their strength.

“I have a tremendous amount of admiration for how much more this graduating class has really persevered through,” she said. “It’s particularly meaningful to feel like they’ve all crossed the finish line despite having a higher amount of adversity in the past two years of their college experience.”

In March 2020, students were evicted from campus due to the escalating public health crisis, forcing the Class of 2022 to spend more than half of their college years under pandemic restrictions.

Kirkland House held a luncheon for graduating students and their families, featuring speeches from the faculty deans and a photograph ceremony.

Samuel “Sam” Murdock ’23, a Kirkland resident, was among the students who stayed behind after classes ended to help organize the festivities.

“A lot of it has just been preparing logistical things,” he said, such as preparing the cards and Kirkland House pin mementos that were handed out to seniors during the house’s graduation ceremony.

With the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions, houses were able to resurrect old traditions that they were unable to sustain over Zoom.

In addition to attending a reception, painting murals, going on a kayaking trip, and submitting photos for a slideshow, residents of Mather House took part in a longtime tradition — ceramic tile-making.

“The whole theme is kind of like: ‘It’s been a while since we’ve done this; let’s see if we can work outside of the box and do some of the traditions we could before,’” said Sean O’Connor, the interim house administrator for Mather.

Of the nearly 130 graduating seniors in Mather, 90 of them made tiles, a count that “blew us out of the water,” O’Connor said. The students’ creations will soon be displayed on the walls of Mather’s basement, joining the tiles of previous graduating classes.

The faculty deans of Quincy House welcomed graduating seniors to their terrace for an ice cream social on Sunday and a photoshoot on Monday.

Michael Y. Cheng ’22, who called the house festivities “really fantastic,” said he is looking forward to embarking on life outside of Harvard’s gates.

“Everything’s just ending, and I’m going through the motions. It’s like a bunch of elaborate ceremonies to leave, essentially,” he said. “I don’t think college should be the best four years of your life, and I feel like the future has got to be better.”

“I’m sentimental, but I’m ready for what’s next,” Cheng added.

—Staff writer Isabella B. Cho can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @izbcho.

—Claire Yuan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.

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