In a detailed message outlining four important events for seniors as they look to graduate from South Pasadena High in early June, Principal Janet Anderson learned just before it was about to be emailed to seniors and their families that Los Angeles County Department of Health will not allow drive-through graduation exercises.
Due to COVID-19, the local high school had one in the works for June 3 before receiving information from county health officials it could not be held.
“The news knocked us back a bit,” wrote Anderson in her correspondence, “as we had been working with City officials to make sure our plans were acceptable to them.”
South Pasadena High had plans for the drive-through ceremony, like so many schools throughout the nation, along with a recorded component.
While it’s graduation season, ceremonies are hardly typical – highly unusual, in fact, – for the class of 2020. When was the last time a graduate didn’t receive handshake or hug from a loved one and was asked to stay a safe distance of six feet away? Grads are experiencing it all over America.
“If there should be another reversal of Health Department restrictions in time for us to still put together our drive-through ceremony, we will immediately inform you,” she added, noting that “we have shifted our focus toward enhancing the video production to celebrate our seniors in a way that best honors their accomplishment and will be a keepsake for years to come.”
In her letter to SPHS seniors and families, Anderson wrote that those hearing about drive-through graduations or parades taking place are likely in other counties, not Los Angeles County.
Anderson added, while “we are still interested in a physical graduation ceremony if restrictions are lifted, in the interest of not disappointing our seniors and families once again, we are not putting forth a projected date for such an event.”
Other key dates in the principal’s notice included:
• May 20 – Locker clearance will take place. All students are required to wear masks and observe social distancing to remove items from their lockers in athletic facilities, the baseball dugout and dance room.
• May 21 – Cap and gown distribution, plus a bag that contains something special from the PTSA and a gift from the school will be given to seniors. Special procedures will be put into place to protect students and staff as vehicles pull up to a curb to receive the items.
• June 4 – Conferring of diplomas. It will have a drive through component like the cap and gown distribution. Masks and social distancing will still be in order for those participating in the diploma pick-up.
South Pasadena High staff is determined not to let the virus put a damper on their graduation plans for the 320-plus seniors counting down the days.
Anderson stressed that the school “want things to be stress-free as possible for our seniors,” she wrote, “so having this information in advance should help them. We are doing our best to make this important time, this rite of passage, meaningful in a world we could not have predicted a few short months ago.”
She concluded by thanking seniors and their families “for your support and understanding.”