“We are very empathetic to our seniors and their families, and the challenges they are facing not having proper closure to their school year,” said Blaine High School Principal Jason Paske. So school districts are making plans they never expected to make – hosting virtual graduations that have a similar structure to an on-person graduation. That includes speeches from students and teachers, music, and reading the name of every graduate.
“We are very empathetic to our seniors and their families, and the challenges they are facing not having proper closure to their school year,” said Blaine High School Principal Jason Paske.
So school districts are making plans they never expected to make – hosting virtual graduations that have a similar structure to an on-person graduation. That includes speeches from students and teachers, music, and reading the name of every graduate.
Centennial High School is doing that, and something more. Over several days in early June graduates will receive their diploma, one at a time.
“We’re bringing all of our seniors in with cap and gown, and they will be walking across a stage, obviously individually. We are going to make sure we are following all of the guidelines of social distancing, the Governor’s order and CDC guidelines. For our graduation, the virtual one, it’s very important for kids to walk across a stage and receive a diploma,” said Centennial High School Principal Tom Breuning.
This will be video taped, and will be a part of their virtual graduation ceremony.
“Of course this is not the same as having a regular graduation at Roy Wilkins auditorium. We all wish we could have that, but we can’t. So we are doing our best to honor our kids as we can,” said Bruening.
Districts are using technology to try to make the end of the year special. Centennial had a virtual prom and will have a virtual pep fest. Blaine had a video induction ceremony for their national honor society, and both schools have had virtual scholarship nights.
“There’s some sadness. There’s some ‘this is not how I saw my senior year ending, and it ended so abruptly.’ I think that’s what a lot of our seniors are feeling,” said Breuning.
“What I’ve heard most is that our students miss school, which is kind of fun,” said Paske. “I don’t think they realized how much they were going to miss school, or how much they were going to miss that day to day interaction with their peers. They’ve made it very evident to us how much they miss their staff members.”
The timing of spring break for both Anoka-Hennepin and Centennial seems to have made everything even more difficult.
“Having closure, I think, is tough for our seniors specifically. Many of them have asked how they can say goodbye to staff members at Blaine, how can they say goodbye to the school. Just having that moment where you walk out, I think is special, and for them they walked out at spring break and they believed in a week they’d be back. That didn’t happen, and I think that’s been really hard on many of them,” Paske.
These districts are working on ways for seniors to have a goodbye moment where they would be able to take a picture – on a graduation stage or a football field – in their cap and gown as a way to end their time in high school.
“Understanding that there isn’t a perfect answer and perfect solution for this, and trying to do our best to recognize this amazing class, and make them understand how special they were and how important they were to the history of Blaine High School,” said Paske.
“We miss you. Hang in there. We are thinking about you all the time. We are doing our best to make the best out of the situation, and honor you the best we can given the guidelines we’re given,” said Breuning.
Both district’s graduations will be available here on North Metro TV. Blaine’s graduation is June 9th at 7pm and Centennial’s graduation is June 13th at 5pm.
Before the end of the school year, Centennial High School is planning a community parade of sorts. The district’s superintendent will join Principal Bruening to drive through communities in the district. They will be joined by law enforcement vehicles to celebrate the graduates.