BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech has a new HokieBird statue on campus in honor of a special group of Hokie graduates: the Class of 2020.
In February, the university says several masked workers and administrators gathered to install the newest HokieBird statue at the sidewalk leading from the Visitor and Undergraduate Admissions Center to the Inn at Virginia Tech and Holtzman Alumni Center.
“The bird, fully funded by the Class of 2020 and designed by 2020 graduates, wears the university’s traditional commencement regalia, including a cap, gown, class ring, and cords,” Virginia Tech said in a statement on Thursday, April 15. “The statue stands as a bittersweet reminder of the disruption of campus life due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, commencement ceremonies for universities across the country, including Virginia Tech, were held virtually, rather than in-person.”
Virginia Tech is set to host a special in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 on May 12 at Lane Stadium, for which graduates may begin registering the week of April 19.
The university says the the concept for the new HokieBird statue was born in April 2020, making it the first Hokiebird to represent Hokie graduates.
Laura Wedin, associate director for student and young alumni engagement at Virginia Tech, reportedly reached out to the Blacksburg Partnership Foundation — which has placed more than 100 HokieBird statues in and around the Blacksburg area — for help developing the idea.
According to Virginia Tech, a group of soon-to-be 2020 graduates, headed by the Class of 2020 president Greg Klatt, worked with Ellison artist Heather Gearhart to create an authentic representation of the class.
The final piece depicts a HokieBird with the class logo emblazoned across his chest, a Class of 2020 ring and a diploma in his claws, and a stole and senior class gift cord draped across his shoulders.
“My favorite part is how the statue displays a typical graduating Hokie, instead of displaying anything that reminds graduates of the sad parts of 2020, like a face mask or a thermometer,” said Taylor Buckner, a 2020 graduate who majored in entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology management, with a minor in professional sales. “I love the design of the Hokie statue and how it demonstrates a traditional graduation ceremony.”
In her commencement address last May, renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni — who was selected as the Class of 2020 class ring namesake for her longtime service and support to the university — commended the graduates.
“The Class of 2020 was an incredibly gracious class,” Giovanni said. “It’s no one’s fault what happened to them, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make up for what they lost and make them understand how proud they should be.”