Endings are important, and graduation is always the highlight of a Beau Soleil year. Graduating students and families come together to celebrate shared years and experiences. Most importantly, perhaps, it is an emotional release: joy and sadness as students say goodbye to those with whom they have shared their lives across many years. Everybody laughs, everybody cries and the seasons turn properly and normally: another group of young people are ready, intellectually and emotionally, for the next step in their lives.
In March 2020, Beau Soleil students, like many others, were abruptly wrenched out of school, away from their friends when the schools and international borders starting closing. Our students were scattered back to more than 50 countries around the world, and our graduating class were not able to say their normal goodbyes.
So, when it became clear that the pandemic was settling in for the long haul, we held a virtual ‘not graduation’ ceremony, and we made the class of 2020 a promise. We would invite them and their families back for a proper, in-person Beau Soleil graduation as soon as we could, to give them a chance to say their proper goodbyes (or at least ‘au revoirs’) to each other and to the mountains. First, we planned for December 2020, then June 2021. Countries stayed locked down, and travel remained impossible to many parts of the world. So we waited, and, like everyone else, we waited. And then we had to make the same promise to the class of 2021.
Finally, on Saturday morning, we were able to welcome the Class of 2020 back to Villars, followed by the Class of 2021 in the afternoon. We graduated our students in the right order – 2020 before 2021 before 2022. This mattered to them – they wanted to take their proper place in Beau Soleil history. So, we had two graduations, complete with an evening reception and two(!) champagne lunches, with 67 happy graduates and families from as far afield as Australia, Mexico, the United States and Japan. The weather gods smiled on us – as they usually do in Villars – and we had a gloriously sunny day, full of reunions, excitement, tears, laughter and with a sense of closure.
We know that the pandemic is not over yet, and that many parts of the world are still in difficult circumstances, but this was a bright spot and a significant milestone for Beau Soleil. Now just this year’s graduation to go on Saturday and we are up to date…
Farewell to the Beau Soleil classes of 2020 and 2021!
Stuart White, Principal