Horns honk in parking lots after socially distant graduation at San Marcos High
Cars colorfully festooned with balloons and “Class of 2020” emblazoned on their windshields amassed Wednesday in the parking lots of San Marcos High School as seniors and their families celebrated their graduation, though not the way they would have if there hadn’t been COVID-19.
At the start of the 2019-20 school year, San Marcos seniors probably didn’t think they would end up celebrating graduation by tuning into a radio broadcast in their family’s car. But the pandemic’s restrictions on crowd sizes required the graduates and their families to stay in their vehicles while hearing words of farewell by student speakers and Principal Kip Glazer.
The socially distant graduation followed strict guidelines from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department: only one car per graduate and only five people allowed, including the graduate, in each vehicle. All who attended were required to stay in their vehicles at all times as access to restrooms and the campus as a whole was prohibited.
To enforce these strict guidelines, a surprising number of security personnel was present. One security member told the News-Press that the tight security was put in place to ensure social distancing requirements were observed, and to serve as a safeguard against potential rioting. The latter was a concern due to the widespread unrest that has erupted in cities around the U.S. in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.
Around 5 p.m., the graduation began with speeches from student speakers: graduates Madai Mendoza, Bobby Carroll, and Meghan Downing. While Ms. Mendoza and Ms. Downing’s speeches were pre-recorded, Mr. Carroll’s was recited live from a podium in the school auditorium, where the entire broadcast was beamed out.
Dr. Glazer then took to the podium to give a tearful speech to her first ever graduating class at San Marcos. Looking back on the difficulty of the latter part of the school year due to COVID-19, the principal expressed appreciation for how her students checked in on her and asked how she was dealing with the situation.
“Even though you had your own disappointments, you checked in with me,” she recalled as she choked back tears.
She then quoted Maya Angelou’s quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Dr. Glazer added, “I will never ever forget how you made me feel to be part of this amazing school community… For that and so much more I am eternally grateful.”
Following her speech, the students of San Marcos High School’s Class of 2020 were named off one at a time in alphabetical order with “Pomp and Circumstance” playing in the background. As the students’ names were broadcast, the cars in the parking lots sounded their horns in celebration.
On June 8, 9, and 10 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the graduating class will in small, subdivided groups walk across the stage of San Marcos’ outdoor amphitheater, The Greek, to personally receive diploma folders from Dr. Glazer.