Class of 2020 graduates in non-traditional way

Due to COVID-19, McLean's seniors leave high school with drive-through graduation, photo opportunities

Photo by Aniki Kong.

As this abnormal school year draws to a close, it’s time to say goodbye to McLean’s Class of 2020. With the cancellations of many senior traditions this school year, many seniors were anxious to find out what their graduation would look like.
“Senior graduation was originally slated to be on June 1, 2020,” Counselor Deb You said.
However, due to COVID-19 the seniors had an unusual graduation.
This year the process of graduation had several parts to it. First, the seniors drove by the school to drop off their school supplies. Then, two days, May 30 and May 31, were allocated for students to drive by and pick up their caps and gowns, diplomas, honor chords and special McLean Class of 2020 masks. Students were creative in making the most of their final goodbye.
“My friends and I decorated our cars with the colleges we are going to,” graduate Erica Bass said.
While the seniors drove in to pick up their caps and gowns, McLean’s staff was ready to greet the class of 2020.
“Staff were celebrating, cheering, and dancing for seniors as they made their entrance into the rock for curbside pickup,” You said.
Later in the week the students and their families had the opportunity to return to the school for pictures. However, health and safety restrictions forced it to run on a tight schedule.
“It was so clinical… because it was so structured nobody I knew was there at the time I was. It was just me and my family and this photographer that I’d never met. It didn’t really feel like I was surrounded by my community there. It felt like I had to get in, get my photo taken, and get out,” Bass said.
To make up for the lack of traditional graduation, Bass and her friends hosted their own socially distant graduation. They dressed in their caps and gowns, crossed a makeshift stage and took graduation photos.
“We each delivered these weird speeches. I gave the president’s speech from the movie Independence Day. One of my friends delivered the speech from Legally Blonde…. Although [our graduation] was on a smaller scale and wasn’t what I had expected, it gave me that feeling of community,” Bass said.
While the seniors had the opportunity to receive their caps and gowns in person, an online virtual graduation will be held on July 3 at 6 p.m.
“To the seniors – you have demonstrated tremendous humility, kindness, and grace. May whatever you do and wherever you go, you keep shining your extraordinary Highlander spirit and pride,” You said. “On behalf of the school, we celebrate, dance, and cheer for you on your incredible graduation! You did it!”