We Did It! Weston Graduation and the Community That Made It Happen

Preps still going on at 2 pm before 4 pm ceremony


As noted by this blog and other sources (and personal experience), one of the loveliest traditions of this town is high school graduation on Town Green. There have been a few years when weather or a pandemic has prevented the outdoor ceremony but this year was not one of them–in spite of all weather forecasts to the contrary.

For the past few days, parents of seniors were worriedly checking forecasts and biting their nails. Thunderstorms were predicted first at 3 pm, then at 5 pm (the set time of graduation) then later, then earlier. On Friday, the decision on indoor or not was expected by 12 noon, made by an unknown group definitely including Dr Midge Connolly, Superintendent of Schools and Paul Peri, principal of the high school, and possibly including Thor or someone with tarot cards. No one, but no one wanted an indoor ceremony at the Middle School gymnasium. No one likes getting struck by lightning either (that is an assumption not based on fact).

Early Friday morning, the previously set-up white folding chairs and speaker podium were packed up from Town Green and moved across town to the middle school gymnasium. While the decision was not being made until 12 pm, the writing was seemingly on the wall.

But then, around 10 am, a plea came on the Weston Facebook Community page by the president of the senior class, Grace Kirk, which read in part:

“The administration’s plan, if the weather is too bad, is to move the ceremony into the middle school gym. As many of you can probably imagine, this is not at all what this senior class deserves. As a class we have experienced countless hardships and lost many of Weston’s great traditions. Please, as a community, help us seniors try to get the date or time of this graduation ceremony moved.”

It went on from there, and the responses were immediate–in support of the class, or just saying that no matter where the ceremony is, the accomplishment is the same. There are 61 comments on that post. As I went into my workout class at 12, the comments kept coming in…Wellesley had moved their ceremony to 4 pm from 5 pm –it seemed now the storms had moved a little later. Wayland moved to Saturday. A nailbiter as the clock rolled on past 12…

Yay, school grounds crew! No one let me drive the tractor.


When I got out of the Training Lab at 1 pm, I walked out to the Town Green where two trucks had pulled up full of folding white chairs. There were maybe 7 people out there–a few more with senior parents coming to set up their folding chairs. The official word was not down yet, but some “moles” had found out the ceremony was moving up to 4 pm from 5 pm. It was roughly 100 degrees in the sun there on the Green, as a number of Weston schools staff, parents and volunteers took out sheets of paper with the alphabetical rows of seniors because the chairs, all of them with taped names on them, had come back from the Middle School in random order.

Folks, there is no way to convey the next hour on that steamy grassland. I don’t have the names of everyone involved, though it all starts and ends with Ben Polimer, the amazing grounds coordinator for Weston Schools. Folding chairs were everywhere, we set each chair in its row of eight, across the way from another row of eight, and then 10 rows from front to back. 154 graduating seniors. We found the end names of every row then filled them in, helter skelter, later organized and made right by Ben.

Halfway through, the team of 10 or so started to get punchy as we looked for certain missing chairs–I now know there are three “Li”s in the class of 2023, but not all sat in the same row. We could not find one student’s nametagged chair for 20 minutes, when it was finally found, spontaneous applause broke out. To all those on the chair brigade, you are appreciated–no one will ever know, unless they read this, how that all happened. The chairs were set up three times yesterday–Town Green, middle school, Town Green again. Our schools staff made that happen. Thank you.

Done! Chairs in order at 2 pm.


As 4 pm approached, the skies were darkening to the west. Above the green, it was cloudy, which actually gave us respite from that relentless hot sun. The graduates came down around the green, girls dressed in white, boys with white jackets and black pants. Each would have a rain poncho placed under their chair by more volunteers–not one rain poncho was needed.

Again, Weston won the day on good decisions. Retiring MS Principal John Gibbons was our Master of Ceremonies, since HS Principal Paul Peri had originally been planning to be at his daughter’s high school graduation–that one had been postponed so Paul was in the audience along with Dr. Connolly and the School Committee minus one. John Gibbons started the ceremony at 3:56 pm, with the traditional bagpiper, a procession of faculty, and then the graduating seniors filing down the hillside and into their extremely-well-placed and alphabetized chairs.

3:55 pm, sky clear to east, getting a little iffy to the west


John Gibbons announced that we would be doing the ceremony backward in case it had to be cut short. So we all yelled “go ‘cats!” first (just kidding). The names of the seniors were read one by one by school committee members, and they crossed the stage to get their diplomas. Photos, smiles, no rain. After the ceremony, one of the faculty told us that from her seat she could see lightning in the west–we missed all that. We did hear rumbling thunder and agreed between my companions and myself that it was actually the noise of a semi truck. Which it wasn’t.

After the diplomas were handed out, the class president Grace Kirk spoke about how she appreciated each and every classmate and had loved seeing changes in all of them since starting at Weston 13 years ago, and then the class speaker Holden Langenhagen spoke about having a nice day and the critical value of our faculty (my words not his–he was much more eloquent). Still no rain. No one hit by lightning. John Gibbons then spoke (a wrap-up on that some other day) and Dr. Connolly then graduated the class. At 4:56, the ceremony was done, and the newly-minted WHS alums came out to hug their families and have snacks provided by the very awesome class of 2025 parents (shout-out to the sophomores who walked around with glasses of water before the ceremony–y’all rock, yeah, I’m biased).

Skies at 4:55 pm. Rut-roh.


One unexpected benefit of moving up the ceremony, besides not being killed by lightning, is that the alums had an extra hour to spend chatting with friends and family before changing out of formal clothes and heading off to the group after-party by bus. There were quite a few earlier alums there and yeah, the cigars came out. Community members with no graduating seniors were there, and that part just makes me happy. We celebrate together.

That is a pretty long story, folks. If you’ve read to the end, know this: Weston Class of 2023 had the best graduation, with the best support from its community, schools and town.

Always and forever, go ‘cats!


  • Susan Zacharias

    What a wonderful summary article. Thank you all for making a Weston tradition happen once again as it always should, on the Town Green in the outdoors.
    My son Evan graduated in 2000 on the Town Green but we had a little mishap with the rain arriving about midway through the ceremony! Everyone got soaked but we all had a ball. He has his water soaked diploma to prove it! Not one person regretted getting wet, it was well worth it. It was a bit like a wet tee shirt contest but that only added to the fun.

  • Such great reporting! It ,”takes a village” way to get that Graduation to happen on the Town Green. Thanks to all of you “nameless” chair people. I marvel when the flags get so quickly put up for 9/11 so it’s nice to see the same can be done w/ chairs- so quickly & efficiently! I’m happy the class of 2023 had such a wonderful & eventful graduation. Go Cats!

Leave a Reply