Gray skies, sunny spirits

Commencement Day 2000 dawned to the sound of forecasters talking about drenching thunderstorms headed our way. But, they stayed away long enough for the Commencement procession to take place as scheduled, and when the rain did arrive midway through Seamus Heaney’s speech, it was only a gentle shower.

The gloomy weather failed to dampen the festive spirits of the graduates as they marched into Franklin Field in their academic regalia.

Along with the usual expressions of relief and gratitude worn on the grads’ caps, there were also nods to days spent playing ultimate Frisbee and even a tip of the hat – make that head – to Pennsylvania’s Quaker heritage.

Even on the stage, there was a bit of frivolity this year: When Law School Dean Michael Fitts presented his school’s graduates for the conferring of degrees, he noted that they had “performed over 200,000 hours of community service without once suing a candidate from the School of Medicine.”

And Heaney’s introduction as speaker prompted a loud cheer from a section of the graduates — we presume they were English majors.

There was even an up side to the wet weather: There was no need for the graduates to douse each other with the little bottles of spring water left beneath their seats. Mother Nature took care of that, and the crowd responded with umbrellas.
— S.S.

Photos by Candace diCarlo


Originally published on June 1, 2000