June 30, 2022
By Louise Schultze
For the first time in three long years, Pixels met together in-person from around the world to celebrate the class of 2022 during Pixel Gathering and Graduation Weekend. Kicking off on Friday, June 3 at the Stanford OHS Carnival, more than 800 students, alumni, instructors and staff, and their families came together on Wilbur Field for the largest in-person gathering ever in the school’s 15 year history. Though the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to keep our global community apart again, families masked up and boarded planes from Turkey, Seoul, Korea, Canada, and from all over the United States. Students rushed to hug classmates they hadn’t seen in person in years, (or maybe ever!) and enjoyed a weekend of camaraderie through games, dancing, and celebrating the end of the 2021-22 academic year.
After Friday’s Carnival fun, smaller groups connected in big ways on Saturday, starting with a trip to Hollister to launch a weather balloon carrying mini Pixel figures into space. Led by Dr. Kalee Tock, science instructor, students, parents, and staff members monitored from the ground as Pixel shot into the atmosphere and flew above the Earth reaching a height of nearly 100,000 feet. It’s incredible to watch the video of the mini Pixels’ flight, taken by a GoPro camera attached to the aircraft.
Back at Stanford University, staff and instructors gathered with others for a parent breakfast and alumni panel featuring 10 recent graduates who returned to share their wisdom with parents of rising seniors, and update the community on what they’re doing now. All alumni felt like Stanford OHS had more than adequately prepared them for life after high school.
“Going to college, you see the difference in how Stanford OHS prepares you,” said class of 2020 alumnus Zoraver Dhillon. “The work we did in class translates, and the skills we learned prepared us for college, and for real world experiences.”
Stanford OHS 8th graders were then promoted to the high school in an outdoor ceremony featuring musical performances and speeches from the Assistant Head of School, Dr. Meg Lamont, and Head of School, Dr. Tomohiro Hoshi.
“By completing the Middle School program, you are now ready to embark on another unique intellectual journey that will nurture your skills and abilities, all while enjoying a lively high school experience with your wonderful Stanford OHS peers,” said Dr. Hoshi. “I would also like to commend you all for having formed such an active middle school community, as the community is key to every education enterprise. Given the online nature of Stanford OHS, community is even more critical than in traditional school environments. You have succeeded in creating a wonderful global learning community to make this the special school for you that it is.”
After tossing their cardinal red Stanford Online High School caps into the air, students posed for photos with their friends and instructors, excitedly discussing what the summer and following year would bring now that their middle school community is moving up to the high school.
With picnics and activities scheduled for the rest of the students around Stanford University’s campus, the next big gathering was Saturday afternoon in the Traitel Building to experience the live Student Showcase. Hundreds of Pixels filled the room to witness the musical, dance, artistic, and comedic talents of our current students, kicking off with a beautiful and moving classical performance of Beyonce’s “Halo” on piano, violin, and cello. At the same time, there was an online Student Showcase taking place for students who could not attend Pixel Gathering and Graduation Weekend. In fact, many of the weekend’s events were in hybrid format, to allow everyone to enjoy the celebrations and festivities.
That night, high schoolers put on their prom dresses and suits to attend a rowdy dinner and dance party at the Stanford Golf Course. Staff members noted that while most dances they’d experienced had cliques of students dancing only with their small groups, Stanford OHS students wrapped their arms around each other and danced the night away in one big, friendly mob, highlighting how unique and special our global community really is.
“We came to Stanford OHS because of the instructors and academics, but I also was encouraged to take mental health days and explore extracurriculars and join clubs,” said Varsha Venkatram, Stanford OHS Class of 2021 during the alumni panel. “Stanford OHS gave me friends, and helped me find people who were interested in the same things and had the same values. I found my community.”
Finally, early Sunday morning, the seniors gathered in their regalia to process into Memorial Auditorium as a class one last time. Dr. Hoshi kicked off the ceremony with words of proud recognition for the accomplishments of the class of 2022.
“Graduating seniors, I am very proud of your achievements at Stanford OHS, and I feel honored to recognize the firm commitment and passionate dedication to learning you’ve demonstrated through your years at the school,” said Dr. Hoshi. “I am so delighted to be with you today to celebrate both your graduation, and the start of this new chapter of your life.”
Dr. Claire Dawkins, and student speakers Connor E. and Ilana N. all shared nostalgic memories of their experiences at Stanford OHS, noting this group of graduates had been through something even more challenging and unique than perhaps other classes in the school’s 15 years.
“The Covid-19 pandemic was incredibly trying for us all, and I know it was especially hard when our friends lived hours or days away - Louisiana, Illinois, China, and Japan - seemingly unreachable in the uncertainty of a global pandemic,” said Ilana. “I remember acutely the intense loneliness of those months. Every call with my friends was tinged with the question: “will I be able to see you again?” So I know how disappointing it was to not be able to gather for two years, and that some of our community’s recent losses were devastating. Yet, being Stanford OHSers, we got through it together. We poured our love and energy into each other, hosting Zoom game nights and supporting each other in whatever way we could. Even separated by months of lockdown, our community proved itself resilient as ever.”
Connor agreed and continued, “We always say that Stanford OHS is a diverse place, filled with brilliant minds from all over the world. But it’s not just a random fact or statistic, we all truly got to understand that value through honest and nuanced conversations. We only have a limited amount of time at each juncture in our life to grow, and we never know quite how long that limit is—I certainly did not predict a pandemic to cut our high school in-person opportunities in half. So let’s not waste a moment more in our new homes this fall, seeking growth from people like us who aren’t like us at all, to grow and create our own unique individual impacts on this world. Congratulations to the Class of 2022, and thank you all for four years of support and growth in seeking our individual identities, together.”
Congratulations to our middle school students, our new graduates, and to the hardworking Stanford OHS instructors and staff who worked to put on such a wonderful reunion and celebration, culminating three long years apart!