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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College hosts senior week for graduating class

Between June 2 and June 8, graduating seniors participated in a series of events planned by their classmates.

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Courtesy of Senior Class Council

Each year, between finals week and Commencement, graduating seniors have a week of no class to bond with their peers and relish in their final moments at Dartmouth. From June 2 to June 8 this year, three student committees — the senior week planning committee, memorial committee and senior selection committee — hosted dozens of events, including a memorial service and a senior prom, according to senior class president Kami Arabian ’24.

Senior week is spearheaded by the senior class president and senior class vice president — Arabian and Anthony Fosu ’24, according to Arabian. The two elected officials then appoint around 30 members across the three student committees in charge of organizing the week.

According to Fosu, the senior week planning committee is in charge of planning events, while the senior selection committee selects a class orator — who speaks on class day, a ceremony at Bema on the day before Commencement — and class marshals, who lead the Commencement procession. The memorial committee was established this year, meant to remember the five members of the Class of 2024 who have died. Arabian said he and Fosu felt that honoring their classmates who died needed to take a “central role” during this year’s senior week.

“We wanted to bring together a committee to come up with something to honor their memory in a meaningful way,” Arabian said.

The College also hosts events, including a reception at the President’s residence and House community celebrations. Arabian said seniors also worked closely with staff at the Collis Center to plan many activities, including s’mores, karaoke and trivia.

“I definitely want to acknowledge that this is made possible with generous help from the staff at Collis,” Arabian said. “I don’t think we would have been able to accomplish even half as much without the help of [associate director of student involvement] Natalie Kittikul.”

Although the planning committees have support of Collis staff, Fosu added that the senior class also “has a considerable amount of autonomy when planning events” each year.

Planning for this year’s senior week began at the start of spring term, Fosu said.

Senior week began with a Celebration of Lives ceremony on June 2 to honor the five members of the Class of 2024 who died in the past four years — Beau DuBray, Connor Tiffany, Elizabeth Reimer, Joshua Balara and Julia Cross. The ceremony took place at Rollins Chapel and was followed by the dedication of a bench to the memory of those five class members outside the chapel.

On June 4, seniors could also watch a film by Serag Elagamy ’24, “When the Old Traditions Failed,” which documents how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Class of 2024. Arriving on campus in the fall of 2020 — the height of the pandemic — was the start of a “unique” freshman year experience, according to Elagamy. He said he sought to showcase and reflect on this experience in his film.

Elagamy said he received a grant from the Hopkins Center for the Arts and the Leslie Center for the Humanities to make the film. He said he hopes to give the film to the Rauner Special Collections Library archives after graduating, adding that it “didn’t take much convincing” to get the Hop to showcase the film during senior week. 

“I thought it would be a great farewell gift for my class,” he said. “The film seeks to honor the memory of class members who passed away.” 

Fosu said he believes the class of 2024 is a “remarkable” class and that he is “hopeful and excited” about what they will accomplish, adding that senior week and Commencement are “just the beginning” of seniors’ lives. 

“I feel for our class because of how our experiences have been bookended by crises around the world by coming into college in the midst of COVID and leaving in the midst of social and political crises around the world,” Fosu said. 

According to Arabian, senior week events sought to make up for fun traditions the seniors missed out on — both during their senior year of high school and freshman year at Dartmouth — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our class was one of the worst off during [the COVID-19 pandemic], and we missed out on high school traditions like prom,” Arabian said. “This is one opportunity for redemption and to do the things we didn’t get to do in high school.”

On June 5, a mock prom took place in the Class of 1953 Commons and featured “fan favorites” from Dartmouth Dining, hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine for those over 21. The dark side of the dining hall was cleared and a DJ was set up. Arabian said the planning committee encouraged people to stage fun promposals and wear formal attire during the prom. 

Seniors also had a final chance to tour the Baker and Bartlett towers, as well as Shattuck Observatory, at various times throughout the week. Additionally, the planning committee partnered with the Dartmouth Outing Club to offer free canoe and kayak rentals at Ledyard canoe club, according to Arabian.

Elagamy said he “really appreciated” the opportunity to spend time with his classmates after finals and anticipated a “mini sophomore summer” experience.

While some senior week events are new or “much revamped,” like senior prom, others date back decades, Arabian said. The “seniors, set a watch” ceremony — which concludes senior week – is a version of a tradition that first began in the 1800s at Dartmouth, according to Rauner Library. During the ceremony, students walked from Collis to Bema, where they held a candlelight vigil and listened to speeches  from class speakers.

The event is an opportunity for the class to “get together one last time” before Commencement, Arabian said.

“We want to continue and improve on our traditions of the past, but also contribute something unique,” he added.

Kami Arabian ’24 is a former opinion editor for The Dartmouth. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this story.