FEATURE — May 12, 2020 at 5:58 pm

How families are celebrating graduating seniors under quarantine

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Graduating senior Karen Villancio-Wolter installs lawn signs on her front porch in celebration of her coming graduation. Photo credit Einav Cohen

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, Broward County Public Schools has forced the class of 2020 to plan graduation ceremonies from the comfort of their own homes. Before the quarantine was instilled, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s class of 2020 graduation was scheduled to be celebrated on May 31 at the BB&T Center. However, since then, graduation plans have been rescheduled, a virtually held graduation ceremony will now be at 7 p.m. on June 15.

Families of MSD seniors have already begun planning alternative solutions to celebrate the fulfillment of their high school careers. Most have ventured through ideas ranging from at-home dinners to zoom calls with families.

“My mom and I decided we’ll zoom my extended family for graduation because several of them were looking forward to actually attending the event and watching me walk across the stage,” senior Alyssa Tephford said. “Even though it’s virtual we still want them to share the experience with us. With virtual graduation, we can even zoom and get in contact with people from different states who wouldn’t have been able to come to my actual graduation, so there is a positive side. While I would’ve liked to have a physical graduation ceremony, we’re doing the best we can to make it special in our own way.”

Students who were scheduled to speak during the graduation ceremony including Student Government President Isaac Christian, Senior Class President Nick Joseph, Valedictorian who has not yet been officially determined, Salutatorian who has also not yet been officially determined and the National Honor Society President Finley Wells will still have the chance to accomplish the honor of speaking in front of the entire senior class virtually.

“As the National Honor Society president, I was supposed to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the real graduation ceremony leading the entire class and crowd,” senior Finley Wells said. “However, now I need to record a version of me reciting the pledge beforehand from home and send in the video recording for whoever is in charge to play during the virtual ceremony. Ms. Verba, who’s in charge of graduation, gave me the instructions as one of the speakers. I would say I’m upset that we won’t be experiencing a real graduation, but honestly now if I make a mistake during the pledge I can just take another video.”

Many parents have taken the initiative of buying celebratory seniors merchandise such as posters depicting their face, name and graduation year. This includes lawn signs and posters hanging on the front door of the student’s homes. 

Teachers and club sponsors have also already begun celebrating the graduating class by gifting goodies and giving words of consolation about the cancelation of the event as well as congratulating speeches for the students’ hard work the past four years.

“I have been feeling very down that the only attempts for a rescheduled graduation is a virtual one, however, my teachers have made this process better than what it would have been originally,” senior Helen Abbott said. “I’ve been a part of Leadership and Student Government for the past three years of high school so I am very close to Mrs. Driscoll. Her small act of kindness through dropping off little boxes of treats at all the SGA seniors’ homes definitely made me, us, feel like we’re being recognized as the graduation class.”

While the postponement and substituted graduation can be seen as a downcast end to twelve years of schooling to the seniors, the community and families of the class of 2020 are proving that there can be a silver lining found in every situation.

Einav Cohen

Einav Cohen is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. She is the managing editor for the school newspaper, president of MSD's Rho Kappa Social Studies Honors Society and recording secretary of MSD's National Honors Society. Einav was born in Israel and moved to Parkland Florida as a child where she enjoys writing and learning about law.

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