Like most members of the class of 2020, high school senior Brighton Craig missed out on the opportunity to celebrate her graduation in front of a cheering crowd. Wanting to create a special memory to mark the occasion, the 18-year-old filmed a farm-themed procession at home in Hume, Virginia, with a little help from her mother, Bonnie Barr-Briggs.
“I was really surprised when they closed school; I never thought that would happen,” said Craig, who attended Fauquier High School in Virginia. “It was kind of shocking that I never got to say goodbye to a lot of my friends. We didn’t know what was going to happen with prom or graduation.
“We had online classes, a lot of Zoom sessions,” she continued. “So I got to see my friends that way, which was nice, but it was still very different. I pretty much studied really hard in high school, which was good, but I was hoping to relax a little bit toward the end of the year and just have more fun with my friends.”
The school district, following recommended physical distancing guidelines, arranged for Craig and her classmates to receive diplomas one at a time in scheduled sessions that were filmed over four days and later shared online.
“They did a graduation with individual ceremonies that was awesome,” the C-2 Pony Club alumni said. “They gave us each a time to go and walk across the stage, take pictures and be with our family. All the teachers were there, waving at you.
“Later the high school had a YouTube stream of all the graduations,” she added, “so families could watch and comment on all the students walking across.”
It wasn’t quite the same as a regular commencement, though, so her mother suggested a horsey twist.
“She said, ‘We’ve got to do your graduation ceremony! We should do it in the barn; it would be really cute,’ ” said Craig.
“First of all we had the dogs walking through the aisle with me,” Craig continued. “I had some biscuits, so they were all happy and following me.” Standing in for other 2020 grads were the family’s three Labrador retrievers, Lulu, Laura and Maisoui.
Instead of faculty and family spectating from the bleachers, horses pricked their ears over Dutch doors. “The horses kind of looked out of their stalls at me as I walked through, so that was cool,” Craig said.
“And then I decided I’d ride my horse, Fabulous, through,” she said. Her mom suggested pushing the wheelbarrow down the aisle next.
“So I got the wheelbarrow, and then we did the lawnmower, so it was just kind of like a farm graduation,” Craig said with a laugh. “It was probably the most fun I’ve had during quarantine.”
Fauquier High School senior Brighton Craig created her own down-on-the-farm graduation video. The Chronicle of the Horse recommends wearing an approved helmet at all times while mounted. Video courtesy of Brighton Craig
She plans to pursue a pre-med track in psychology or biology at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, this fall. “They’re planning to [have students on campus],” she said. “They had a Zoom session last night. We’re probably going to have to wear masks, and it’s going to be restricted, but they want to start on time, so that’s awesome.”
Craig, who has evented and foxhunted in addition to participating in Pony Club, looks forward to trail riding this summer before heading to school. “This fall, I’m going to do the riding club at college,” she said. “That’ll be hunter/jumpers, and I’ve never tried that, so it’ll be fun.”
She and her mother—and the Labradors and horses—enjoyed creating the lighthearted video. After editing the clips together and sharing on social media, Craig has received positive feedback from friends and neighbors who couldn’t attend her school graduation session.
“People think it’s really funny,” she said. “They’ve been leaving a lot of nice comments. It’s made me really excited for going to college and bringing closure to the last four years of high school.”