Due to Covid-19, schools in San Tan Valley and Queen Creek had very different High School Commencements than they had in the past. This year some schools had a drive through diploma pick-up. Other students watched a pre-recorded ceremony from the television their living room. Those who did get to graduate on the football field, were only able to bring 2 guests, and had to wear masks while seated 6 feet from other graduates.
Regardless of how each school handled commencement this year, the change was difficult for many students and their families. When asked how they felt about having a socially distanced graduation, one graduate lamented, “Had I known that school would end at spring break, I would have planned one last hangout with my friends, given one last hug and said my goodbyes.”
At my daughter’s school, they had both a drive through diploma pick up and a virtual video graduation. For our family, these moments were very bitter-sweet. As we talked about the changes, we noted with sadness that we did not get to see our daughter, and her friends, toss their caps together. that she did not get to hug her friends on the field in celebration of their hard work and effort, and that she wasn’t able to have that post graduation party at our house. However, we were extremely grateful and happy that the school had figured out how to celebrate our graduate and her accomplishments, her grandparents were able to attend, even if it was virtually, and that we weren’t sitting out in the Arizona heat, sweating while watching this celebratory event.
The night of her graduation was surreal. We all gathered around the television to watch the graduation video made by the school. Our daughter put on a comfortable sweatshirt, grabbed a pillow, blanket, her cap and Swedish Fish. Surrounded by our immediate family and a couple of stuffed animals, that were shared with her, she reclined her seat to watch the show. The screen came to life and we began participating in the Pledge of Allegiance, listening to pre-recorded speeches, and messages from the graduates. When the appropriate time came, my daughter moved her tassel from the right to the left and tossed her cap as the video instructed. It felt more like we were watching an interactive movie, than a commencement ceremony.
No matter how the individual schools celebrated graduating class of 2020, I’m sure it will be a memorable experience for those graduates. I know it will be for my daughter. #Classof2020strong