Due to COVID-19 we have not had many in person events and activities this year at Washington High School. Now that it’s spring, WHS seniors are not far away from graduation. What will this year’s graduation events look like? By the rates of COVID and the restrictions, is an in person graduation walk possible? From the looks of everything it seems like this year might be another drive-through graduation for WHS seniors. On a recent WHTV News Special Report, Mr. Soltau said “The question isn’t what we want to do, it has to be what are we allowed to do? Right now in person is just not allowed.” With that in mind, graduation is a big question for seniors.
Some graduating seniors shared their perspectives on what should happen. All of the seniors I interviewed believe traditional graduation shouldn’t happen due to safety concerns about COVID. A “drive in” or “drive through” ceremony is a popular option among seniors. Isaiah Thomas says a drive through graduation “seemed to work well for the seniors last year and it was pretty efficient so it’s a good way to do it and still have the community come out.” Safety is definitely a top concern though, and some students like Minh Loi would rather have a virtual event if that means keeping everyone safe. “Virtual graduation is fine with me,” she says. “My main concern is staying safe and not infecting my family.”
No matter how graduation happens this year, students say that they will miss out on seeing friends. Aaron Bhandal says, “we won’t get to see our friends very much. I’m going to miss all my friends and all the memories we had at washington.” Isaiah shares this sentiment: “It will be a shame not to be with all your peers at once after being with many of them for so long and not having that huge moment with all your friends and family gathered together.” However, he sees some perks in a less traditional graduation ceremony. Isaiah says “I think there won’t be any long name ceremonies which is nice.”
WHS teachers and administrators feel for seniors and hope to make some events happen if it is safe. WHS Principal Bob Moran recently spoke about this on a WHTV News Special Report. He said, “I felt sorry for last year’s seniors but I never thought it would happen to this year’s seniors. We’ve got to abide by Fremont Unified rules and county rules, but I do think we need to do something for you seniors.”
Superintendent Cammack recently addressed the topic of in person graduation during the March 10th FUSD Board Meeting. “Every two weeks I meet with all of the superintendents from Alameda County and Dr. Moss, Alameda County’s public health official, and we talk about issues facing school districts, and one of the things we talked about specifically today were in person graduation opportunities,” he said. “We do expect that the state of California, through the California Department of Public Health, should be issuing guidance in the next two weeks on graduations [and] we look forward to engaging in conversations about what opportunities we can provide for our graduating seniors in recognition for how important that moment is.”
He added, “All of our actions and decisions are based on the guidance provided by local and state public health officials. We are an organization trained in education, not in making public health decisions. So we really rely on the guidance provided from the local and state officials in that regard. We look forward to seeing their guidance on the in person graduation coming very soon.”
On March 19th, Mr. Moran announced that the Class of 2021’s graduation date will be June 15th at 3pm. Thanks Mr. Moran, we are holding out hope.
Aansh Sharma is a junior at Washington High School. He grew up in Munich, Germany and Mumbai, India and then Fremont, California. This is his first year at the Hatchet. His interests are running the Gaming Club and reporting on the local news. He also likes to play video games. He would like to get a job in Computer Science to allow him to support himself. While Computer Science seems boring, he will try to have fun with it despite that, and also distract himself with gaming sometimes.