Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Graduation Ceremonies Amid a Pandemic

by Katelyn To

As May comes close to an end and June approaches, the thought of the pandemic taking a traditional graduation ceremony away from high school and college seniors makes many sullen. However, high schools, universities, and celebrities do the best they can to make up for a regular graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. 

For example, on May 8, Ms. Benson sent out an email to Las Lomas students about a graduation ceremony with social distancing guidelines in place, which the school will hold on June 3. “Students and their immediate family members will be invited to campus during a specific timeframe to participate in a diploma presentation,” the email states. “Professional videographers will film every component of the ceremony and present it via a live webcast. This webcast will be recorded and available, in a condensed format, after graduation.” The ceremony will also include student and staff speeches, certification, presentation of diplomas, and ceremonial changing of tassels. The email tells students to await additional information. 

“I think it’s the best the school could have done honestly,” said Senior Yoonju Kim. “Although the traditional one would have been preferred because I definitely wanted the experience and atmosphere of graduating with people I spent four years with…I’m just glad we have at least some type of in-person graduation…I think it’s super clever the school is doing specific/different time frames for people.” 

Senior Mari Johns said, “I’m disappointed that I don’t get my traditional graduation, but I understand why they are doing this. But in my opinion, I was hoping that they would have waited till this pandemic was over. And I’m sad that I don’t get to graduate alongside all my friends and whole family.” 

Many celebrities have also taken to online platforms like YouTube to host their own virtual graduation ceremonies for anyone who wants to join. On June 6, Barack and Michelle Obama will host “Dear Class of 2020” on the YouTube Originals channel at 12 PM PST. The Obamas will make speeches, along with speakers and appearances by Beyoncé, BTS, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Emma Chamberlain, The Try Guys, Malala Yousafzai, and more. 

On May 15, HerCampus celebrated college seniors also with a YouTube livestream and appearances by Liam Payne, Austin Mahone, Margaret Cho, Andrew Yang, and more. On the same day, Oprah Winfrey, Lil Nas X, Awkwafina, Simone Biles, and Jennifer Garner spoke on livestream “#Graduation2020” hosted on Instagram and Facebook. 

The University of Southern California held their own virtual ceremony on May 16. Speakers like Will Ferrell, John Williams, Mandy Moore and Lisa Ling came to celebrate the graduating class at USC on the Youtube livestream. ‘Graduate Together’ also featured Lebron James, Barack Obama, Lana Condor, the Jonas Brothers, Malala Yousafzai, H.E.R., Bad Bunny, Pharell Williams, and more. It aired on television in addition to TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter.