BELMONT, N.C. — Saturday, Belmont Abbey College graduated 295 students, but because of circumstances brought on by coronavirus, they went virtual.
School leaders held the ceremony in the college’s ballroom and read off named while graduates tuned in online, as the entire thing was live-streamed on the college’s website.
It was a classic Carolina spring day, but while the sounds of graduation weren't in the air, the sound of Belmont Abbey's signature bagpipes were.
The bagpipes were a constant of what students would usually expect in their graduation ceremonies, but not much else is the same for the newest class of graduates from Belmont Abbey College.
Lindsey Osmera listened from her backyard as her name was called by the school’s president on a live stream.
"It was a little bit different experiencing it virtually," Osmera said.
Instead of walking across a stage, she celebrated by jumping in a pool.
"They actually did a really good job with it," she said. "Because they had all the graduates send in photos and celebratory videos. They recognized us for all of our achievements."
For Alyssa and Brian Girard, it was an extra-special achievement. The couple graduated cum laude together, and their little girl was there to witness it.
"We’re very grateful," Alyssa Girard said.
Belmont Abbey College President Dr. Bill Thierfelder says there’s a message within the circumstances we share in this pandemic: this is part of life. And in the words of ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."
"We've got to go on," Thierfelder said. "We just can’t lay down. We've got to move forward, and make the most of this."
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