With our fourth quarter converted to distance learning, a lot of tears were shed from children and adults alike. We missed each other. We missed our spring program, our track and field event, our banquet, and many field trips.

Students recently returned to their classrooms for the first time since March. One of my seventh grade girls put her head on her desk and said, “My desk! I miss my desk!” And she remained at her desk, head down, in silence for a while, then sat up to write notes for her classmates to discover at their own desks.

We set out to give our students an epic capstone that would express our admiration for being so outstanding. We held graduation at the Brighton Adventist Church, which included six pre-recorded events: a kindergarten outdoor graduation, a Zoom interview with tenth grade students, footage of a tenth grade driving parade, three student solos, an eighth grade tribute to parents, and a video yearbook. The livestream May 20 graduation hosted only our three eighth grade students with parents, so that diplomas could be received in person.

One parent shared their deep appreciation for the event. “Tonight was my son’s beautiful eighth grade graduation ceremony. Our school made it so special and wonderful,” they said. “It was so bittersweet. We had one of the best years ever and it was cut short. I was sobbing by the end of the video. I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful school and church family.”

Gina Davison, K-4 teacher, recognized the silver lining in an outdoor graduation. “Our school has a beautiful large rock sign in front that says ‘Bring the little children to me, for such is the kingdom of Heaven,’” she explained. “There is no better location for a kindergarten graduation. Seeing our four kindergarten students gather at this invitation from Jesus was like sitting at the feet of Jesus.”

The livestream graduation event concluded with a video yearbook, ending with a broadcast of Brighton Academy students singing the chorus of “Rise Up” at the 2020 Rocky Mountain Conference Music Festival. This closing was intentionally shared with words on the screen, “Brighton Adventist Academy family, we will rise up! See you August 2020!”

Jodie Aakko is head teacher at Brighton Adventist Academy in Brighton, Colorado.