SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – High school seniors will be able to walk across the graduation stage this year with their classmates but not everyone in their family will be able to watch the milestone in person.
Oak Ridge High School mother-of-four Jennifer Yoder watched her first-born son, Ben, walk across the high school graduation stage from her car one year ago.
But she told FOX40 Wednesday that a drive-thru ceremony was better than no ceremony at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“My son’s like, ‘Mom it’s not a big deal.’ But they don’t know what they’re missing partly. I know what they’re missing. This is their new normal, unfortunately,” Yoder explained.
She says she has to go through it all again as her next child, Sophie, prepares to graduate.
“I’m crushed personally,” Yoder explained. “Two graduations that I will have missed out on having my family there for my kids, so, yeah, it’s hard.”
Yoder said she’s thankful she gets to witness the milestone from the bleachers this year but to keep crowds limited, Parents with students at Oak Ridge High School were told there will be two separate graduation ceremonies with each student getting two tickets.
For Yoder’s family, that means mom and dad get to go but grandparents and siblings can’t.
“Let us have more than two people per student. Let us have a proper graduation for the kids, outside with masks and everybody all together,” Yoder said.
Similar plans have been made at the Twin Rivers Unified School District, with each student assigned one pair of tickets.
“We’ve lost family members to COVID in our family, so we understand the severity of it, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and this is 13 years of school that they’ve worked towards,” explained Twin Rivers Unified School District parent Heather Rosa.
This year’s graduation will be her first time watching her child accept their diploma but she wishes the entire family could be present for the memory.
“It’s devastating for our family. But looking at the last year, my niece graduated last year and she didn’t get a graduation at all, so we’re thankful that at least we get to celebrate that,” Rosa said. “Although, we don’t know how we’re going to break it to our younger son who won’t be able to watch his brother graduate.”
After a year of canceled homecoming, football games and proms, parents had hoped students could make up for everything they lost with a traditional commencement to bookend a not-so-traditional high school experience.
“High school graduation is such a big milestone. They don’t understand what it’s like to have the pomp and circumstance of a real graduation,” Yoder said.
FOX40 reached out to the Sacramento City Unified School District and they will be allowing three tickets per student.
Face masks will be required, and district officials told FOX40 that all of the ceremonies will have a virtual component so that others can watch the ceremony over live stream.
Graduation plans are tentative based on COIVD-19 case rates not changing within the county.