Year In Review 2020: A class of its own

Springfield Public Schools graduated 644 students and hosted a staggered ceremonial approach. Gateway High School graduated 39; Springfield High School graduated 292; Academy for Arts and Academics graduated 47; and Thurston High School graduated 266 students. Over the course of two weeks, graduates were called to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas as their guests cheered them on at Springfield High School, Thurston High School and the Wildish Theatre. A video was released with senior speeches and graduation speakers.

Springfield High School Principal Jose da Silva said the class has “shown more resilience than anyone could have expected of you … the pandemic has caused us to draw together in the spirit and heart, even as we practice social distancing and finish our year with online classes.”

Creswell High School graduated 70 students this year through video stream, and received their diplomas and awards over a staggered three-day graduation walk. Following the event, a seniors’ parent group organized a short car cruise through town. 

One of the cruise organizers, Wendy Smith, said the route turned into a “memory lane” idea, seeing as it will go by the elementary and middle school before ending up back at the high school. “When COVID-19 happened over the last few months, the physical events that the seniors normally have didn’t happen and we tried to have at least one event where they could come together and have something with social distancing,” she said.

Cottage Grove High School graduated 166 students in the 2019/20 school year, and held a graduate cruise that weekend to celebrate. Al Kennedy High School graduated 27 and also held a drive-through graduation ceremony. Both schools opened with the traditional strains of “Pomp & Circumstance” – a tip of the hat to tradition in what no one could describe as a traditional year – followed by a cruise in which seniors hopped out of their vehicles to snag their diplomas and take photos. 

The emotion of assembled staff, parents, and supporters was evident, Chronicle writer Dana Merryday wrote. “Many of the students being recognized for their achievements had to overcome huge obstacles that would have intimidated souls of lesser grit,” he wrote. “This was a moment for celebration!”

Pleasant Hill High School graduated 80 students this year, and celebrated with a movie theatre-inspired commencement ceremony. Each student was allowed two vehicles. When they reached the front row, the grads got out of their vehicles to receive their diploma and other awards. 



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