Graduation, the culmination of the last four years of high school. Something that should be celebrated, but this year’s question is how. Do we do a virtual graduation ceremony similar to last year?
Last year’s ceremony was met with mixed reviews. The class of 2020 was obviously disappointed that their celebration of their achievements was simply a video compilation that they watched from home with their parents. Of course, that was the best ceremony that was possible at that time, as there was a lack of information regarding what was safe to do. And a video was better than nothing.
Now, it’s the Class of 2021’s turn. This time, there has been time to plan what will be done in terms of graduation. We have lived through a whole year of the coronavirus pandemic, and now a decision can be made for graduation with much more thought than last year’s was.
In my opinion, the most practical way to hold a fulfilling and safe graduation ceremony is to have it performed on the football field, with students chairs socially distanced and with masks on. However, the logistical question comes down to family members. In a class of 400+ students, how do you set a limit of family per child, and how do this many people safely attend?
It seems essential for an in person ceremony to accommodate for an audience of parents. Spreading out students safely is not an issue. There is plenty of room on the football field to accommodate for all 400+ students. However, there is not enough space in the bleachers on either side of the football field to safely seat the parents of 400+ students.
This is assuming that no one is vaccinated and we are following pre-vaccine CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and masks. However, Governor Holcomb announced on March 23rd that anyone above the age of 16 is eligible to be vaccinated starting March 31st. Given this, it seems reasonable that a large majority of the graduating class and their parents will be vaccinated by the time of a graduation ceremony in early June.
I believe that if a certain percentage of students and parents are vaccinated by the time of the ceremony, it should be safe to hold the ceremony outside on the football field. However, this decision ultimately goes through the school board and South’s administration in coordination with the Monroe County Health Department, and I am unsure of how masks, social distancing, and herd immunity comes into play considering this graduation.
Overall, I believe that an in person graduation ceremony should be held. If it has to be without parents, it should be held without parents, similar to what IU is doing. It is not ideal for many parents; however, live streaming the ceremony is a realistic option.
Graduation is a perfect way to bookend 13 years of our lives. It is probably the last time we will ever see a lot of the people we have gone to school with for years, some since we were five years old.
Even if you did not have the best high school experience, these people have been a part of your life for 180 days, five days a week, for the past four, six, or 13 years. Good or bad, I think it is the best way to bring your childhood education to a close and say goodbye to those that have shared this experience with you for the past however many years. That closure before going off in our separate directions is important. I think it is necessary to have that final moment with all the people that have been alongside you for the past 4, 6, or 13 years of our lives.
That is something that the class of 2020 did not get when their senior year was abruptly ended. One last moment with their graduating class, and one last chance to say goodbye to everyone from their childhood.