Opinion: Graduation should not be virtual


Credit: Julia Callini

Each year a few students are selected to give speeches during graduation. It is a very exciting time for all WHS students as they walk onto the stage to receive their diploma.

Julia Raymond

Many adults can look back on their high school graduation and remember what a special day it was. Most recall the feeling of pure bliss, but the class of 2020 may not be able to feel the same.

Years of tradition will be thrown away by hosting virtual graduation. These traditions cannot be celebrated on a computer screen: stepping up onto the stage to receive your diploma, shaking hands one final time with Ms. Mizoguchi and the superintendent, being recognized by the crowd, watching your family come together to celebrate you, taking pictures with your friends who helped you get here, or throwing your cap into the air.

Senior spring took a turn for the worse, and events that shape seniors’ final months in school were all taken away: the last day of school, the senior cruise, the senior show, class night, class awards, and senior assassin. These events are something that seniors have been looking forward to for months. Sadly, graduation cannot be one of them.

It is possible to incorporate social distancing into graduation. There is no reason that chairs can’t be distanced six feet apart, with masks and gloves to be worn. These students are willing to take the necessary precautions to save their graduation and celebrate outside in summer 2020.

A recent survey gave a bunch of new options for alternative graduations after the first survey failed to satisfy most families and students. The first survey only gave four options, but the new one offers seven.

June 2021: A year is a long time: friendships can fade, students can move to other places, and some might even get a new job. As time goes on, students lives change and their high school life will be behind them by 2021. This would be unfair to have the students wait a year after they have worked hard for four years.

Family only graduation: Each senior would go to the WHS stadium, walk across the stage, pick up their diploma, and celebrate for a portion of time (10 to 15 minutes) with just their family present. This would take place over multiple days. Graduation without friends seems unfair. For some of us, our peers are the ones who have been with us since kindergarten. They have seen you at your best and your worst. These are the people who support you the most. You have to celebrate together.

Caravan Graduation: Students and their families drive in separate cars to a stage where students receive their diploma. Streets would be lined with celebrations and decorations. There will be pre-recorded shared speeches and musical selections. Caravan celebrations are effective, but mostly with birthdays. A birthday celebration is not the same as graduation. Every weekend, most students partake in parades. During these parades, students drive by their peers’ houses and decorate their cars and cheer for them, driving by 20 kids’ houses on average. Students don’t need this as their graduation too.

Zoom Graduation: Students attend a live Zoom call and graduate at the same time. This ceremony would include speeches and possibly performances. All students have participated in their fair share of Zoom calls recently for classes, so this would feel all too laid back to be their real graduation. Emotions can not be expressed over a screen, and 200 plus students participating in a call seems chaotic and overwhelming.

Prerecorded Graduation: Students watch a prerecorded video that includes pictures of themselves in a cap/gown, with speeches, music, etc. They would watch the video and turn their tassels together at the same time on Zoom. Diplomas would be distributed separately. However, graduation seems like more of an “in the moment” type of thing, and watching a prerecorded video would defeat the purpose.

The last two options were November 2020 and January 2021 hosted inside. Graduation is always remembered as occurring on a beautiful spring day. One of the qualities that makes graduation so enjoyable is the weather.

All of these options have their downsides except for holding graduation in August outside, which is not an option yet. These seniors deserve one last chance to have fun before concluding their high school career during a negative time. Such memories can not be made through a computer screen.