Valley Central High School’s Class of 2020 broke the mold of graduation as they are the first class to have a virtual graduation ceremony. Due to COVID-19, the original graduation ceremony scheduled for June 26 was re-scheduled for August 1 with the hope that we would be past the restrictions on large group gatherings.
A typical VCHS Commencement would have as many as 2,000 people in attendance to celebrate the average graduating class size of 385. Since the early 1990’s the VCHS Graduation has been followed by an All Night Grad Party which also had been rescheduled.
As it became apparent in the month of July that restrictions would not be lifted as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the southern and western states of our country, the VCHS administration made the decision to hold a virtual ceremony. In preparation for this, VCHS Principal Jayme Ginda-Baxter had the traditional speeches in the last days of June so the graduates would have as traditional a Valley Central commencement ceremony as was possible. The virtual graduation was released at 6 p.m. on August 1. It has been uploaded on the District’s Youtube channel and is available on the District webpage as well.
When students found out that their commencement ceremony would be virtual, they reached out to ask for an opportunity to hear their name called and turn their tassel on the VC Commencement stage.
“While there have been so many new, and unique events that were created to celebrate these graduates, it broke my heart to hear them ask for something so simple, so I reached out to the high school administration team and asked them to make something happen for these kids,” explained Superintendent John Xanthis.
In a combined effort with the All Night Grad (ANG) Committee, the graduates were provided with one more opportunity to create lasting memory. Students were invited to make a socially distanced appointment to hear their names called by Mr. Hebbard and Mrs. Hernandez, the honor announces and receive their Commencement program, a check from the ANG Committee and commemorative tickets to the ceremony. Students had previously been presented their diplomas in June at a family photo shoot.
The graduates arrived in their cap and gown and were able to remove their mask and walk across the stage and turn their tassel while their family members took photographs and cheered.
“We have made so many things happen that I couldn’t have imagined during this pandemic from the delivery of lawn signs to every member of the Class of 2020 and the incredible Celebration Lane and family Graduate Photo Shoots. It was important that the students have their moment to stand on the stage and celebrate that they have indeed graduated, and I commend our VCHS administration, staff members, ANG Committee members and Board President and Vice President for making that happen for these young men and women. Congratulations, to the Graduating Class of 2020!” said Superintendent John Xanthis.