When the Class of 2020 gathered for its commencement ceremony on July 18, they knew the day would be far from traditional. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of their senior year, but there was one tradition that would live on - the senior class composite photo, which dates back to 1890.
Jeff Hughes ’79 whose daughter, Madison, was a member of the Class of 2020, came up with a plan on how to safely produce their class photo. “Because Friends is such a small, close-knit community and goes back so many years, traditions like this one carry even more significance and are a much bigger part of this school than many other schools. As an alumnus of a graduating senior, I think it probably meant even more to me personally,” said Jeff.
“What became abundantly clear throughout the months of preparing for the graduation is that this class is a family and they wanted to be represented as one,” photographer (and WFS parent) Elisa Morris said. “So much was taken from these extraordinary kids: their senior prom; their last concerts; plays; sports seasons; time with friends and teachers to bond with one another in school; and their traditional graduation and celebrations. I think the administration, teachers, parents and the WFS community were truly committed to find a way to make at least one thing seem ‘normal, joyous and traditional.’ Everyone wanted the kids to feel special. They wanted to be represented that way for posterity and in the historic photos that line the hallways of Friends graduating classes. We were committed to making that happen.”
With the help of staff members (and Class of 2020 parents) Linda Jaworski and Margaret Ann Butterfield, and with Elisa’s incredible photography and Photoshop skills, Jeff's idea on how to create the class composite became a reality. “Because they knew the Class of 2020 so well, they were able to imagine and arrange all 71 students where they would have likely been standing had they all been able to be together. Truly amazing!” said Jeff.
Using a previous senior class photo as a guide, Elisa and Jeff worked to “stitch” together eight different photos of the students posing socially distanced so it appeared that the class was all together as one.
Please see the video clip for how this incredible process came together. Thank you to everyone who made this possible!
Photo concept, design, and development by Jeff Hughes '79.