Schools host virtual commencements on internet and drive-through ceremonies
The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District celebrated the graduation of 2,000 students this week during various commencements.
Each of the four of the district’s schools came up with its own way to honor its graduates while still obeying the state government’s social distancing order.
At 11 a.m. Friday, during Santa Maria High School’s 127th graduation commencement ceremony, Principal Steve Campbell said that in his eyes the class of 2020 has already made its mark in history.
“Other years, I would stand up here and tell you seniors to go out and change the world,” Mr. Steve Campbell said. “But this year, this senior class has already done that. Your actions this spring have saved lives.There is no other senior class that I have seen in my 30 years in education who can say that.”
Following the school’s first online virtual graduation commencement, Santa Maria High School graduates received their diplomas during a drive-through ceremony on campus from 1 to 3 p.m.
Ernest Righetti High School held its first online virtual graduation ceremony at 9 a.m. on Friday where Principal Karen Rotondi gave the class of 2020 two numbers to choose from.
The first number she gave was 55, representing the number of school days the graduates missed due to the quarantine. The second number was 2,160, representing the number of days the class of 2020 attended school from kindergarten until now.
“So which will it be? 55? Or 2,160? Which number will define your accomplishments, trials and errors, relationships and just plain hard work that has led us to this day,” Ms. Rotondi said.“You can’t control a global pandemic, but you can control how you take your experiences and use them to push yourself harder. Pursue your dreams with more vigor or develop a new level of compassion for those who suffer.”
Following Ms. Rotondi’s speech, Ernest Righetti’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian Ian Tosches had his own words of congratulations for his classmates by stating that although the end to their high school careers may be unconventional, it is “in no way less significant or commendable.”
“I suppose this is a testimony to the fact that the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability,” Mr. Tosches said. “I understand that for many, this may seem like a truly disappointing conclusion, and some might worry that their years of effort will go unrecognized. However, our successes were real, our accomplishments are owned and these cannot be devalued on the basis of not being unable to celebrate them in person.”
In a manner similar to Santa Maria High School’s, Ernest Righetti HIgh School followed its virtual graduation with a Parade of Seniors at Winepress Pentecostal Church of God. That’s where graduates were recognized and able to walk and receive their diplomas while their family members watched.
After its online virtual commencement Thursday night, Pioneer Valley High School held its drive-through graduation from 9 a.m. to noon Friday. Students and families were encouraged to decorate their vehicles in the school’s colors of teal and black.
“I am proud that the class of 2020 will be represented in history books and students of the future will learn about their experience, reflect on the COVID event and how it affected all of us in education,” Pioneer Valley Principal Shanda Herrera said. “Class of 2020, you will persevere and this is a part of your story.”
Delta High School kicked off its graduation Thursday with a virtual commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. and a “Delta Drive Through Grad Pack and Awards Pick Up” event from 5 – 8 p.m. At this time, a traditional in-person graduation has been postponed until further notice.
While congratulating her fellow classmates, Delta’s Saludetorian Nancy Elias encouraged the class of 2020 to not let the, “disappointments of this year steal your joy or take away the feeling of accomplishment you would experience walking across a stage.”
“This is more than just a video, more than just saying ‘I’m finally done,’” Ms. Elias said. “It’s a permanent memory. A celebration of all good and bad times, the amazing teachers and staff, and most importantly, a celebration for the future waiting for all of us.”