On August 8, 2020, RMA’s class of 2020 officially graduated.
GAINESVILLE, GA -- On August 8, 2020, a blistering Saturday afternoon, Riverside Military Academy (RMA)’s class of 2020 officially graduated, three months after the originally planned date for Commencement.
Riverside Military postponed the May 16 ceremony because of COVID-19. A survey of the seniors at that time showed that they preferred a live versus virtual ceremony, even if it meant waiting until August, days before most report to college.
The rescheduled ceremony, which was closed to the public and limited to cadets and five guests per senior, incorporated mask wearing and social distancing in keeping with state and federal guidelines. Cadets were given the opportunity to wear either their RMA uniform or a cap and gown for the ceremony.
Fifty-eight members of the 78 in the class of 2020 were able to attend the ceremony, which was live streamed so that distant seniors and their families could watch.
“We have students from 30 different states and 28 different countries,” said Christian E. Mims, Director of Marketing & Public Affairs. “Many of our students were not able to make the trip back to walk in the ceremony they worked so hard for. However, the safety and wellbeing of our cadets, faculty and staff is our highest priority. We are fortunate to have the capability to live-stream our ceremonies across the world.”
Silver Taps, a traditional RMA ceremony to honor fallen alumni, was held at 5 pm on McLendon Quadrangle. As the graduates processed down the stairs of Lanier Hall, their small groups of supporters looked on from bleachers social-distanced six feet apart.
Commencement was held at 6 pm in Curtis Hall where the graduates were spread out in chairs in the Richard M. Nichols Arena. Riverside Military Academy President, Colonel Stanley C. “Staś” Preczewski spoke to the graduates saying,
“You came into the world in the shadow of 9/11, you have seen and lived through terrorism, war, economic recession, and now a world-wide pandemic. But, you have also grown up in the years of YouTube, the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, electric cars, and more. You are the generation for whom technology is a second skin in which you are so comfortable. You are also the generation who will seek for authentic experiences and careers that make differences in the lives of others. Because of all you have seen and experienced, in this year alone, you will be a better citizen of this world.”
RMA Board of Trustees Chairman C. Brian Daniel was also in attendance and spoke briefly to the graduates about using their experiences to help prepare them for the unexpected that will continue throughout their lives.