'I'm a little disappointed': High school seniors upset over virtual graduation ceremonies

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 9:30 PM EDT
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Senior year of high school is something students look forward to for years. There's prom, senior skip day, banquets which all lead up to graduation. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic has stripped that away from the class of 2020.

"I didn't think my senior year would be like this," said Harrisonburg High School senior, Tatiana Catreas.

Catreas is one of about 400 seniors at Harrisonburg High School who will be hearing "Pomp and Circumstance" through a computer screen.

"I was looking forward to actually walking across the stage, throwing my cap and gown and wearing all my cords," Catreas said. "I would have been the first person in my family to actually graduate and go to college."

Harrisonburg schools superintendent Dr. Michael Richards said HCPS has come up with a plan to ensure that the class of 2020 feels special on their special day.

Students will pick up their cap and gown, and then join a virtual graduation ceremony at 10:00 a.m. on June 6.

"Each student will be pictured in their cap and gown and it will include the normal speeches and that kind of thing," Richards said.

Richards said all hope is not lost for an in-person graduation, though.

"We're talking to JMU, which provides the facility each year for our in-person graduation and asking them to pencil us in for a possible in-person graduation later in the summer, if it is safe to do so by then," he said.

As for Rockingham County, Superintendent Oskar Scheikl said it's too far out to make a decision.

"It's really difficult to plan right now," Scheikl said. "We have thought about a few things like a virtual graduation or driving cars into big parking lot, but we would like to have a traditional ceremony even if it's a little bit later."

Scheikl said the district will make its decision based on recommendations from the CDC and Virginia governor Ralph Northam.