GREENFIELD, Calif. (KION) New California Department of Public Health guidelines state commencement ceremonies for 2021 graduations can allow in-person attendees with limited capacities.
While graduates in 2020 experienced virtual and drive-by ceremonies, high school and college students say they hope this year will allow them a more normal ceremony.
A group of senior athletes from Greenfield High School say finishing their last year of school during a pandemic was nothing short of disappointing.
“It’s kind of rough on us seniors having our senior year like this, it’s not what we wanted," says Daniel Pantoja.
The students say their best times revolved around their games, competitions, pep rallies and spending every day with their friends but having to finish off their last year of school at home meant having to miss out on those experiences.
“The Friday night lights, out here everybody looking at you, everyone supporting you, and that feeling you just…I won’t be able to get ever again," says Ivan Torres.
“Our last year together, and to have all the activities together to remember, not just via zoom, that’s something I’m really going to miss," says Leo Hernandez.
News of the CDPH guidelines came late for Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County. Cabrillo Public Information Officer Kristin Fabos says the college already made plans months prior to host another virtual graduation for the second year in a row.
Fabos explains graduations, even virtual ones, take some time to plan. However, she says that doesn't mean the school isn't trying to make this time special for their college seniors. She says the school is discussing having a drive-through grad fair where students can pick up their caps, gowns and other graduation regalia while still maintaining health and safety guidelines.
“I always call graduation the happiest day of our year, to just celebrate the successes of our students and for some of them to see the adversities they’ve overcome and accomplishing their degrees," says Fabos.
Fabos says not having an in-person graduation this year came as sad news, not just for the students but for staff as well.
"That moment at the end of our in-person ceremony and the faculty and staff line up on either side to congratulate them and to cheer for them...always a tear jerker," says Fabos.
Fabos says Cabrillo is aiming to have in-person graduations by the next year and that any graduating students who wish to come back to have that in-person graduation can participate.
While many schools still don't have a finalized plan for graduation, the students at Greenfield High School say they hope they will be able to have their commencement in-person.
“I think they care, they care about us, they wouldn’t do that to us," says Torres.
“I see this as a motivation, as a push, just to rethink of what you want to do," says Pantoja.
KION reached out to Greenfield High School about their plans for 2021 graduation and is waiting to hear back.