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Credit: Biruk Tibebe

For the first time since World War II, juniors celebrated Hey Day off campus. On Thursday, instead of biting hats and gathering outside College Hall, the Class of 2021 made do by listening to a video from Class Board 2021 and Penn President Amy Gutmann.

Hey Day is a Penn tradition where juniors wear red shirts and hats, called skimmers, and carry canes as they proceed down Locust Walk to College Green, where Gutmann pronounces them seniors. With the closure of campus and shift to online classes, juniors were not able to partake in the over century-old tradition on campus this year.

Class Board 2021 President and Wharton and College senior Lizzie Youshaei said Class Board 2021 plans to hold an on-campus Hey Day when it is safe to do so. Class Board 2021 Executive Vice President and Nursing junior Anthony Scarpone-Lambert said, however, the class board still wanted to honor juniors' advancement to senior year this semester with a virtual celebration.

The video featured Class Board 2021 members tossing the classic "P" sweaters to each other before turning to Gutmann, who officially declared the Class of 2021 seniors. Gutmann also took a bite out of a skimmer at the end of the video, replicating the tradition where the University president takes a bite out of the class president’s hat, Youshaei said.

"By the virtue of the sheer awesomeness of your class, I now pronounce you all seniors," Gutmann said. "Congratulations, this bite is for you."

Scarpone-Lambert said Gutmann's presence was vital to the video, as many juniors looked forward to her officially pronouncing them seniors.

“Though we must be apart, I look forward to the day when we’re reunited in person on campus, and until then, there’s simply no way we’re going to let distance hold us back from lifting our skimmers to the great Class of 2021,” Gutmann said.

Scarpone-Lambert said in order to ensure the video reached as many juniors as possible, Class Board 2021 encouraged juniors to post about the virtual Hey Day on social media, using College Green backgrounds and skimmer hat stickers provided by the Penn alumni office on Instagram.

“It’s really a deeply held and revered Penn tradition,” Youshaei said. “A huge reason why so many of us chose Penn is because of the amazing traditions, and Hey Day is one of those that connects the past to the present, and to the future.”

College junior Daria Kulakova said she had looked forward to Hey Day since she first heard about the tradition in her alumni interview when applying to Penn. Kulakova said while she is disappointed that she could not experience the tradition this semester, she appreciated Class Board 2021's effort to connect the junior class, and Gutmann’s role in the video to declare the class seniors.

Youshaei said while the video does not replace an in-person Hey Day, she hopes it brought the junior class together during a time of uncertainty.

“We really wanted to show unity and togetherness during a time where we're so separated,” Youshaei said. “You don’t need to be on campus to show Penn pride and Penn spirit.”

Kulakova added she is looking forward to an in-person Hey Day when campus reopens, whether that is fall 2020 or spring 2021.

“Before graduation, we definitely should have our Hey Day,” Kulakova said. “I’m really waiting for it, because this is what makes Penn unique.”

Wharton junior Tuti Gomoka also expressed gratitude to Class Board 2021 for creating the video for their class, adding that she was surprised to see Gutmann featured in the video.

“[The video] was triumphant in a time of so much sadness and anxiety,” Gomoka said.

Gomoka said that hearing the Penn fight song and Gutmann's declaration of her class as seniors comforted her despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it really shows the strength of our community that we can still have that pride even if we're miles and miles apart,” Scarpone-Lambert said.