Class of 2021 will graduate in four separate ceremonies, in-person

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Graphic illustration by Elizabeth Cheng

Lynbrook’s Class of 2021 will graduate in-person despite students being in remote learning for most of the year.

Elizabeth Cheng

From losing both junior and senior prom to missing their last year of Homecoming, the Class of 2021 has experienced a year and a half unlike any other. Now, seniors can finally celebrate finishing their high school journey through four separate in-person ceremonies, where families can congratulate their seniors in-person.

“For me, it was very important to have an in-person ceremony because I feel like our senior class has lost out on so much,” Assistant Principal of Activities Susan Rocha, who was responsible for planning graduation, said. “If there’s one thing that culminates the high school experience, it’s graduation. Being able to graduate with your friends, having your family there and being able to walk across the stage are memories that people will take with them for a lifetime, so it was really important to me that we try to provide those memories in-person.”

Lynbrook administration wanted to make the ceremonies unique to the graduating class, so they named each ceremony after one of the Class of 2021’s past Homecoming themes: Candyland, Asgard, Time Travel and this year’s cancelled Homecoming theme, Fountain of Youth. The ceremonies will take place on the football field, with two held on Wednesday, June 2 and the other two held on Thursday, June 3. Seniors were required to sign up for a ceremony a few weeks beforehand. 

“The list on the website shows you who is going to each time slot, so I chose which ceremony to go to based on who was going to each ceremony,” senior Nancy Qi said. “Since my sister is also coming home from college to come to my graduation, I chose one of the later dates.”

Graduates can invite a maximum of four guests, and everyone is required to wear masks and follow social distancing protocols at all times. Families will not be allowed to move assigned seats during the ceremony in order to maintain social distancing. These decisions made by the district will be the same across all FUHSD schools, except for the number of ceremonies, which is affected by the size of each school’s football stadium.

Lynbrook administration started thinking about ideas for graduation back in December 2020, and their main goal has been providing an in-person ceremony for the seniors. Lynbrook had to adapt based on federal, county and district guidelines as the graduation dates grew closer. Recently, Santa Clara County issued guidelines specifically about in-person graduation ceremonies, which included limits on percentage of occupancy and sanitization protocol between ceremonies.

Types of ceremonies that administration considered included a drive-through graduation, like what was done for the Class of 2020, individual appointments and small group graduation ceremonies that occur throughout the day for an entire week.

“I think the administration did a good job on the format given the circumstances,” Qi said. “We can only account for a certain number of people at a time, so the different sections are a good idea.”

Unlike previous years, which each had around two graduation speakers, the Class of 2021 will have four graduation speakers, one for each ceremony. Twelve seniors applied to be a speaker and auditioned in-person. Some speakers will be speaking at one ceremony and actually graduating at another.

“I absolutely love public speaking, and I thought this opportunity to say some words to our class would be amazing,” senior and graduation speaker Zoe Parkhomovsky said. “Giving a speech that encompasses everything our class is going through and what we are going to go through in the future and finally brings our class together is something exciting to do.”

Whether students will be allowed to remove masks to take photos is still to be decided. However, professional photographers from Lynbrook’s official photography company, Now and Forever, will be taking photos during the ceremony. The ceremonies will also be live-streamed on the Lynbrook Film Club Youtube channel.

Nonetheless, the Class of 2021 will still be able to have a sense of normality with an in-person graduation ceremony.

“The Class of 2021 has really proved how resilient and persevering they all are because they made it through something that will probably be the most difficult thing that everyone has experienced in their lifetime,” Rocha said. “There’s so many more things that they have to accomplish, and I have high hopes that the best is yet to come for all of them.”