Graduation ceremony returns to pre-pandemic setting

April 1, 2022 — by Derek Hsu and Avani Kongetira
The senior class office and administration navigate the logistics of a graduation ceremony with a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions 

If current COVID 19 trends continue, the Class of 2022’s graduation ceremony will take place on June 2 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the football field — and be normal for the first time since 2019. 

There will be no limit on the number of attendees graduates can invite; the administration expects a spike in guest attendance compared to the restricted 2021 graduation ceremony, assistant principal Matthew Torrens said.

This will be the first traditional graduation ceremony since the pandemic started. In 2020, seniors picked up their diplomas during a drive through-graduation in the front parking lot. The Class of 2021 moved one step closer to normalcy with an in-person ceremony, although social distancing and masks were still required while students got their diplomas on the football field.

Senior Adrian Gecils said he finds it surprising that graduation is only two months away, but is excited for the presence of his guests.

“My friends and a lot of my family are planning on attending, as this is a huge next step and a moment of celebration for me,” Gecils said. “They get to cherish the end of one incredible chapter of my life and the gateway to another one.”

While Gecils’ family can share this special moment, other families battle with constantly shifting travel restrictions and quarantining. Senior Garrick Zhang, who considers graduation the best part of high school, said that his family in China cannot attend the event due to the current COVID-19 laws in Beijing. 

“My father won’t come because he’s traveling back and forth in China,” Zhang said. “But my mom will most likely be here, and I’m especially appreciative of that.”

A major change from previous graduations is that students now have the choice between white or navy blue gowns regardless of their gender identity. According to Torrens, the change aimed to alleviate pressures to associate gender with specific colors and allow students to choose what’s best for them. 

Zhang chose navy blue gowns because in China, white is associated with funerals and more solemn, respectful gatherings. Blue is “more formal and appropriate” in his culture, but he said that despite his slight cultural preference for blue, the color ultimately didn’t matter for him.  

There are various other changes that are currently in discussion between the senior class office (SCO) and Torrens. Through a recently released survey, the SCO gauged the class’s preference for orientation —  facing the home side of the football field and tennis courts as per tradition, or facing the scoreboard and Herriman Avenue — and grouping — alphabetically or among friends as Class of 2021 graduates did. The organizers are potentially including a livestream for international family members that cannot attend. 

County guidelines also factored into the school’s plans for the graduation ceremony: Students won’t need to wear masks or stay 6 feet apart outdoors, but administrators pointed out there is no certainty of the public health conditions in two months and plans could change.