Pierian photo by Kaylin Newton
A young woman in cap and gown proudly walks across a stage, grabs her papers, and exits. This is the culmination of her 12 year journey in education. While her future may be bright and full of promise, her graduation is constrained to a near-empty room. On her way out, she reads a banner that proudly proclaims “Congratulations, Class of 2020!”
Due to the outbreak of COVID 19, schools nationwide are having to change plans for senior graduation. The new plans, seen here, have caused some students to push back.
“It’s not right that the graduation for my class has been made individual and virtual,” senior Owen Lopeman said.
His comments, and many like it, can be found on a change.org petition to delay RHS graduation so that Seniors can experience a traditional ceremony. The petition has been signed by both disgruntled students and parents alike.
“I’m signing because we as RHS students have been waiting a long time to experience the ceremonies in honor of our 4 years,” senior Zaine Gutierrez said. “ [We] can still wait, just as long as we get a beautiful ceremony experience like the rest.”
These students feel as though the graduation they are receiving does not have the same value as a traditional ceremony, and are concerned that it will feel subpar.
“Being unsatisfied [made me want to share the petition],” senior Daniel Barbre said. “The current plan is just ridiculous and can be improved. I personally would rather have no graduation at all instead of the current one.”
In a response to the concerns of these students, Principal Rae Woolpy released an email covering the reasoning behind the decision to hold graduation in this format.
“We felt that waiting to do graduation until July or Fall or winter break would only lead to more frustration and no closure to your high school career,” Woolpy said. “We understand the multitude of emotions, the disappointments, and heartbreak that this pandemic has brought to the Class of 2020! Please know we are extremely disappointed as well.”
Despite disagreements, the response appears to have cleared things up for some students.
“I took part in an email protest, [and] the response from Mrs. Woolpy was reassuring,” Barbre said. “She obviously understands the situation and our feelings. She is trying to find the best and most satisfactory solution, but this is what we have.”
Although students have mixed feelings surrounding the ceremony, there is one thing everyone can agree on. The graduation for the class of 2020 is sure to be a unique one.
“This video [of graduation] is downloadable for a keepsake,” Woolpy said. “I believe once you see the finished product, you will be proud to have this memento that would not be available in a parade or drive-through graduation in cars.”