Alyssa Dale wanted to acknowledge right away that this was not a normal year.
Dale, the senior class president at Laramie High School, was graduating alongside her classmates. But their chairs were all six feet apart on the grass of the school’s football stadium, and they wore masks as the ceremony began.
“We are the class that gets to graduate outside, and luckily not the class to get rained on,” Dale told her class after they received their diplomas.
Laramie High School sent off 213 graduates from the class of 2020 on Saturday morning in a delayed and socially distanced version of a graduation ceremony, under a shining sun.
In addition to the unorthodox graduation, the class of 2020 is also unique for the experiences the students missed at the end of their senior year, Dale said.
“We also got to be the class with the most loose ends,” Dale said. “We have managed to make it through all of these, and in a way it will prepare us the most for the world.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, precautions were taken throughout the graduation ceremony.
Staff and printed signs directed attendees along carefully designed routes as they arrived for the graduation, through the parking lot to the stadium and their seats. Families entering the stadium were required to wear masks.
Groups of four chairs for the family members of each graduate were arrayed around the football field, with at least six feet between each group of chairs, and orange tape in the bleachers marked the safe places to sit.
George Yost, the high school’s student body president, told his classmates that he hoped they would change the world, to combat threats like climate change and the coronavirus.
“Hopefully you have the desire to see some things change for you and, maybe in the future, for your family,” Yost said. “Without change we cannot hope to become better.”
Even at the individual or local level, the graduates could strive to create change in the future, Yost said.
“All change starts with individuals,” he said. “It starts with people continuing to educate themselves about the issues in the world around them.”
Greg Riddoch, a retired baseball player and high school teacher who managed the San Diego Padres, gave the keynote address at the graduation. He spoke of his past experiences as a teacher and coach, and of various students who inspired him with their persistence and ability to overcome the odds.