A New Graduation In The Wake Of Coronavirus

Seniors took part in a personal ceremonial graduation walk this week, with two dates for a more traditional ceremony set for the summer if state Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

House Principal Dr. Robert Colyer greets a Spring-Ford senior and his family as they arrive for the student’s personal ceremonial graduation walk on Wednesday, May 27. RCTV filmed the walks and will piece them together with student and faculty speeches for a graduation production set to air June 12. If Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, a more traditional ceremony will be held later this summer.

Bryn Borzillo, News Editor

Your name is called and you stand up, following the procession of students, classmates, and people you have known for years. You reach the stage and get handed your diploma. There is a loud applause and you know you have completed your high school career. 

Graduation, a classic ceremony full of caps and gowns, is becoming a slightly different phenomenon in the wake of the coronavirus.

The class of 2020 is reaching the end of their time at Spring-Ford, and yet their send off is coming in a different way. Since March, students throughout Pennsylvania did not set foot in schools, participating in all of their classes through online resources. With the shutdown and stay-at-home mandate due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the graduating class had missed many key points in their senior year. From prom to decision day, senior traditions were cancelled. 

However, a graduation ceremony still took place, although not in the same form as years past did the class of 2020 receive a diploma.  Throughout the week of May 26, seniors across Spring-Ford arrived at designated times to attend a personal ceremonial graduation walk.

What does this mean? 

Students walked across the stage by themselves during their designated walk time, following social distancing protocol throughout the entirety of the ceremony. Students were encouraged to decorate their cars in honor of their graduation when arriving at their designated walk time.

“I really appreciate all the work Spring-Ford has done to have a modified graduation,” senior Felicity Thatcher said. “Many schools are not getting a graduation so I am thankful my school is putting in an effort. On the other hand, nothing will beat the traditional ceremony. I was excited for people, other than my parents, to see me graduate. I am very hopeful we will get a real graduation later in the summer.”

Each student was limited to two guests at the physical commencement ceremony, however each personal walk was filmed by RCTV for other family members to watch their loved ones officially finish their high school career. In the graduation package released at 7:00 pm on June 12th, there will be recorded speeches from student and faculty speakers as well as personal walks to make up a full commencement ceremony that would normally take place. At the end of the ceremony, the entire Spring-Ford community is encouraged to celebrate the graduates by making noise from home to honor the end of their high school careers.

However, Spring-Ford graduates should not be discouraged, as a traditional ceremony will be held on July 24th should stay-at-home mandates and restrictions be lifted. If the county has not entered the green zone by this point, though, the district will attempt to hold a ceremony on August 14. After this point, should students remain in quarantine, the class of 2020 will only receive a personal graduation walk.

“I think that Spring-Ford is doing what they can in an unexpected circumstance, while trying to follow the guidelines,” senior Kayla Marshall said. “I hope that the plans for July/ August go through if the country is in the green phase by that time.”

Despite the “virtual” ceremony, the class of 2020 has persevered, setting standards that all future graduating classes aspire to meet.