As coronavirus threatens seniors’ graduation, students still push for traditional ceremonies

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SAN DIEGO – A major milestone for high school seniors isn’t looking the way most expected due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A growing cry among San Diego Unified School District seniors is to keep graduation as traditional as possible, even if it means postponing the ceremony until later in the summer.

“One of my best friends and I, we were so excited for this time because this is pretty much what we’ve been looking forward to our entire education,” said Jenna Beck, a senior at The Academy of Our Lady Peace.

When officials began shutting down schools due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders prolonged, Beck now realizes certain milestones are going to look different.

“It was very difficult for me and a lot of my friends just to kind of come to terms with the fact that that’s not reality for us,” Beck said. “I started to kind of process that eventually, when we are able to get these events … it’s going to be better than we initially thought just because we’re more grateful and amazed we actually have that opportunity to have it.”

Beck said her school plans to have some sort of physical graduation ceremony later in the summer. She hopes her friends at other schools have the same opportunity.

This week, students told the San Diego Unified School Board their hopes to keep graduation traditional. One suggestion including breaking up into groups and holding smaller ceremonies throughout the day.

“The health and safety of all staff and students is most important but we have been putting a lot of planning and consideration into taking necessary precautions and following health guidelines with everything that we do,” said Ila Jade Komasa, president of San Diego Unified’s Council of Associated Student Body Presidents. “We want to be able to have that graduation moment and to honor our accomplishments in the way that we have always imagined.”

The school board has left decisions on graduation up to individual schools. But Beck said she’s excited to have a physical graduation, whenever that day may come.

“I just hope (others) get that kind of like opportunity because I think every senior deserves to be celebrated for all the hard work that they’ve put into it,” she said.

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