LOHS held its graduation precession outside on May 28 in order to protect the safety of students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Principal Rollin Dickinson and superintendent Dr. Lora de la Cruz stood on a stage set up in front of the school, where one student was allowed to walk across at a time. After English teachers Jami Wray or Andrea Dunn read out the student’s name, bells rang out, often accompanied by applause and car horns. The student walked across the stage, first shaking Dickinson’s and de La Cruz’s hands before receiving their diploma. Families remained inside their cars, often decorated with congratulations for their new graduate, and picked up their student on the other side of the stage. Afterwards, graduating students were offered a bag of blue and white popcorn through their car window. Dickinson and de la Cruz both wore protective face masks, as did some graduates. In addition to the cheers of the families, music played in the background over speakers from a playlist put together by a hired DJ.
Jamie Kojiro, a now-graduated senior, enjoyed the outdoor ceremony. Along with preferring an air-conditioned car opposed to “a long, hot, crowded ceremony,” she also appreciated her teachers’ presence as she walked across the stage. “Seeing all my math teachers from the past four… years in one place waving and saying congratulations felt genuinely meaningful, as opposed to just standing up in front of a bunch of people, grabbing a diploma, and then sitting and waiting around for ages.”
For some students, however, the ceremony was a less than ideal way to end their last year of high school. Class of 2020 alum Jeffery Sun felt that while the graduation walk went well despite the circumstance and appreciates the administration’s efforts, he notes that “overall it felt really anti-climactic for all the time high school has been.”
Several teachers watched the ceremony from the parking lot. Among others, the math department coordinated to watch the ceremony together. “It was great because as a department we had a chance to give personal congratulations to every single senior who was there. I really appreciate that students had a chance to personally interact with all of their math teachers in a meaningful way as they passed,” said math teacher Daniel Kumprey.
Fellow math teacher Anthony Corso added that, despite the hot day, the ceremony was “fun and festive, and I think we all [thought so]… I would love elements of this type of grad ceremony to be carried forward. Personally, going back to the exact same grad event as we’ve normally had would be less than perfect. Some hybrid of the two would be ideal. I would want to get to hear the student speakers again, etc. but the procession made for a fun and celebratory atmosphere.”
“The required social distancing seemed weird, but it was nice seeing each student drive by and have time to congratulate each person individually rather than just the group as a whole,” added Teri Lovelace, a new LOHS math teacher. “It seemed more personal to me than other graduations I have experienced.”