Local high schools schedule in-person degrees
Eric Davidove / Town Crier File Photo
Mountain View and Los Altos high schools held graduation video viewing ceremonies last year due to the pandemic, above. This year, schools are planning outdoor ceremonies with social distancing.
High school students in the area are set to step onto the stage at graduation next month with their classmates in an in-person ceremony, though it still includes pandemic precautions.
Mountain View and Los Altos high schools are scheduled to hold their graduation ceremonies on June 4 at PayPal Park, the soccer stadium where the San Jose earthquakes play. Los Altos High seniors will graduate at 4 p.m., with Mountain View ceremony at 7 p.m.
Each senior graduate is entitled to four spectators, and students will be seated spaced apart, with guests in modules per family.
Mountain View High’s deputy principal Jon Robell called the year’s theme “flexibility” as the district worked to plan a graduation ceremony based on health needs.
“It will be a different experience, but at the same time it will be an exciting and fun event,” he said.
When planning for graduation, high schools worked together to coordinate their ceremonies and surveyed students and parents for their opinions.
“As a district, we’ve made it a goal to align the main and most important aspects of our planning because it’s better for the students (and) it’s clearer for our community,” said Suzanne. Woolfolk, Deputy Director of Los Altos. .
In several polls, seniors have voted to graduate at PayPal Park rather than on campus. By using the football stadium, there is enough space for the senior class of each school to graduate at the same time and accommodate the spectators.
Los Altos High School student body president Jessica Dooley said that for her, the ceremonial aspect of being on campus was a big draw, as well as the convenience for families with transportation challenges, but that she was grateful and excited for the planned ceremony.
“I’m glad we’re all together and have our family and friends there too,” Dooley said. “There are only trade-offs for every (plan) – there is no perfect solution.”
If the ceremony had taken place on campus, there would not have been enough space to accommodate all of the students, as well as the spectators, Woolfolk said, adding that Los Altos High administrators had wanted to arrange for the awards ceremony. diplomas on site and were delighted to have his return. in the years to come.
After seeing siblings and friends graduate in the past, Mountain View High Senior Class President Josh Lillie said it was important to him that he and his classmates had the chance. to graduate in person as a group, rather than being broken up into several smaller ceremonies, which being at PayPal Park allows.
“At the end of the day, while it would have been nice to have a graduation on site, I think it’s more important to prioritize unity rather than… to be fragmented, especially after that. what this year has been like, ”he said.
To meet the COVID-19 health requirements that are in place for PayPal Park, all seats will be pre-assigned and other health precautions will be followed, Woolfolk said. Students will be physically left behind in the stadium, with three empty seats between each graduate and two empty rows between each occupied. The guests of each student will be seated together like a basket, separated from the other groups. With all that spacing, Woolfolk said almost the entire stadium would be filled.
Students who do not feel comfortable attending in person will still have their names read during the ceremony. At Los Altos High, around 45 students choose to stay at a distance, Woolfolk said.
Community television channel KMVT plans to broadcast the ceremonies live, and will also produce an edited video afterwards, Woolfolk said. The live stream link will be available on the high school website on graduation day. At the stadium, there will be a large LED screen showing the proceedings, so that participants can see what is happening up close.
The San Jose earthquakes donate the use of their facilities, with the Mountain View Los Altos Union school district paying only for staff, said Woolfolk, whose husband played for the earthquakes. It’s the same arrangement the district had last year, when earthquakes allowed high schools to hold graduation ceremonies behind the wheel in the tailgate parking lot. This year, schools will use the stadium itself.
Woolfolk estimated that stadium ceremonies would cost a maximum of $ 15,000 per school this year, while on-site ceremonies before the pandemic were typically held at around $ 10,000 each. However, with the health requirements in the event of a pandemic, even an on-site ceremony would have been more expensive, she noted.
According to Robell, the graduation plans have been “positively received,” although students still have a lot of questions, as it will be a new experience.
“The kids are just thrilled to be together – that’s the main thing,” said Robell. “They are thrilled to be at an event together (and) to have spectators.”
As Lillie awaits her graduation, he said he was personally grateful that his family could be there to support him while his name was read, and he is delighted as the chairman of the main class to be able to read the names of the other students and say a few sincere. words to the crowd.
“I’m really thrilled to see the pride on the faces of my classmates because they deserve it all,” said Lillie. “Getting a high school diploma is a big deal. For many of us, this is the greatest achievement to date. “