Given the restrictions that were placed on schools during the last few months of the academic year, graduation ceremonies seemed unlikely. That didn’t stop Arcadia area schools from celebrating the students who are taking their next steps in life – 5th graders who are moving to junior high, 8th graders heading to high school and seniors who are moving on to their next chapter. This is how they celebrated.
Arcadia High School
Arcadia High School held an inaugural Senior Parade on May 20, where students and their families drove through the Hopi Elementary parking lot to celebrate the graduates. They were greeted by Principal Stevens. The Grand Marshal and Student Body President Charlie Siegel spoke a few words and senior Olivia McGinley sang the National Anthem.
The students were celebrated with pomp and circumstance while neighbors cheered from the sidelines. Arcadia High also held a virtual graduation on May 21. Several students gave speeches and Mr. Stevens announced names of each graduate. Diplomas were distributed at school the next day.
Brophy Prep held an event called “Diploma Days,” where each senior walked through Robson Gymnasium in their caps and gowns and received their diplomas. In June the school had a graduation drive-by event and a livestreamed ceremony displayed on big screens so families didn’t have to leave their cars. The valedictorian spoke during the livestream, as did the president and principal of the school.
Christ Lutheran School
At Christ Lutheran School, students had a designated time to collect their diplomas. Eighth graders and their immediate family were welcomed into the sanctuary, where students walked down the aisle and were greeted by the administration and their advisors, while family members took photos at a safe distance.
A recording of the ceremony, along with a message from Pastor Dave, readings by the advisors and valedictorian and Laubenstein award winners was shared with the students.
“It was very emotional for me and the faculty as we had not seen our students for a couple months,” Principal Jon Doyle said. “The families were overjoyed with the opportunity to have closure in person with the faculty and staff as well as the link to send to family and friends to celebrate as well.”
Hopi Elementary held a 5th grade graduation parade at the end of May. Students dressed in school colors and decorated their family’s cars. As they drove through the Hopi parking lot, they received their graduation certificate and a party bag.
“The 5th grade parade was truly amazing,” Principal Tamara Jagodzinski said. “It was a wonderful way to celebrate our 5th graders. I am so grateful for the parent volunteers that put this together. Emily Blais and Liz Ord were so thoughtful in their planning. It was so wonderful to see the kids and say goodbye. Under the circumstances, I could not have asked for anything better!”
Madison Highland Prep
Madison Highland Prep held a virtual graduation for their seniors on May 21. Instead of participating in-person at The Madison Center for the Arts as originally planned, the graduates participated from their homes around the Valley. Pre-recorded speeches were played during the video ceremony, which also featured photos of seniors from early childhood to adolescence. Valedictorian Elliot Montano spoke of the unprecedented challenges the Class of 2020 faced as a result of the pandemic.
“The last few months of our senior year were taken from us, and yet this terrible tragedy has only brought everyone closer together,” Montano said. “The outreach I have seen online has been tremendous as we continue to celebrate not only ourselves and our accomplishments but the accomplishments of others as well.”
St. Theresa Catholic School had a drive-through graduation/parade in the church parking lot in mid-May. All of the staff from preschool to 8th grade came out to cheer on the graduates – with everyone in school colors. Students and their families were encouraged to decorate their vehicles. Later in the summer, St. Theresa plans on holding a mass to honor their graduates.
Veritas Prep held an 8th grade promotion parade in early May where students and families decorated their cars and were welcomed by the senior class and their new teachers.
After the 8th grade parade, seniors also participated in their own parade, where cars were decorated in their college’s colors. Teachers handed out caps and gowns. Chick-fil-A and Jamba Juice donated breakfast for all of the seniors and teachers on the last day of teacher appreciation week after the parade. The 8th graders participated in a virtual promotion ceremony and senior graduation took place on June 19.