ELK GROVE, Calif. (KTXL) — After a difficult school year full of uncertainty, more than 4,500 high school seniors in the Elk Grove Unified School District are getting the graduation ceremony they’ve been hoping for.
“We never thought this day was going to come,” said Laguna Creek High School parent Linh Fleming.
For the class of 2021, the event was not guaranteed.
After a year of distance learning, canceled events and virtual hangouts, Laguna Creek High School seniors finally got to celebrate in person.
“I’m feeling very excited, very relieved,” senior Alicia Watkins shared. “We actually did end up getting a graduation. I’m very thankful.”
“The kids so deserve this year,” Linh Fleming said. But when they donned their caps and gowns, they also put on their masks, proof that their graduation ceremony still wasn’t a typical one.
The district is holding all of this year’s graduation ceremonies outdoors at Cosumnes Oaks High School and Monterey Trail High Schools in its two largest stadiums.
Each senior class will be split into two or three groups to limit the number of people gathering at one time.
“We only have like five tickets to hand out to everyone,” Watkins said. “So some of my family members didn’t get to come, but that’s okay.”
The limited capacity didn’t seem to put a damper on the excitement among the graduates and their families.
“I think it’s a special moment for every senior. Now, they’re going to be free,” Haseeb Sadat said.
“It feels amazing, finally being done with high school,” Charlie Fleming shared.
The students said getting their diplomas in person gives them hope about what the future will bring.
“I feel like this summer is going to be really fun,” Watkins said. “I feel like things will calm down a little more since the vaccination is out.”
“I feel like COVID is starting to go, little by little,” Sadat said. “I’m going off to college at UC Santa Cruz,” Charlie Fleming shared.
Students from other schools in the district will be honored Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Elk Grove Unified School District is the fifth-largest school district in California and includes nine high schools.