STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A surge of enthusiastic teachers, parents and peers cheered Patterson High School seniors on, not from the bleachers of an auditorium but from city sidewalks.
“We’re really grateful for what the community has done for us and also our district,” senior Flor Neri told FOX40.
Educators say COVID-19 may have forced them to cancel their school’s graduation ceremony that was set for late May but they were still able to put Wednesday’s event together where students picked up their caps, gowns and other swag from their cars.
“The class of 2020 has just been unbelievable to work with. They’ve been really thinking about what’s appropriate, what works within the social distancing guidelines,” Patterson High School principal Dave Smith said.
Seniors also got a chance to see their portraits for the first time as they now line the fences around campus which gave students, like Jacinda Hernandiz, a chance to reflect.
“Because when I was taking this photo the first time, I had so many hopes and dreams of what my senior year was going to be like,” Hernandiz told FOX40.
Although COVID-19 has changed the venue, students say the virus won’t stop the celebration.
“I still feel like our class has taken maybe a different approach to it and now we’re feeling optimistic,” explained Neri.
Hernandiz says what the pandemic has taught her is that the class of 2020 is strong yet flexible.
“We have a lot of grit and resilience and that this is just the first – one of the first – struggles that we’re going to have to overcome in our life and we’re already doing pretty well,” said Hernandiz.
Principal Smith said the school is planning a virtual graduation within the next month or so. And if the guidelines allow, they are also still hoping to have a traditional ceremony.