Fernley seniors choose drive-up graduation

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Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

After a vote by seniors to choose between three alternative plans to celebrate graduation, the Fernley High School administration and senior leadership has chosen to hold a drive-up ceremony for the Class of 2020 to receive their diplomas.

Because of the likelihood that Governor Steve Sisolak’s directive prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 will prevent the school from hosting a traditional graduation ceremony on June 5, school administration and students were forced to come up with an alternative.

With the help of principal Kent Jones, student leadership came up with three ideas, and put them to a vote of the class’s seniors. The three ideas were a virtual graduation, a reverse graduation parade, where family members and the community would drive by as graduates stood in place in their camp and gown, or the drive-up graduation.

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While a more detailed plan will be announced, the graduates will be allowed one car, with family members with them if they choose. They will get out of their car and walk across the stage to receive their diploma, then the next graduate will drive up to the stage.

The ceremony would be broadcast live and recorded so other family members could watch remotely.

Student Body President Celeste Condie said she and the other leadership students at first weren’t very enthusiastic about coming up with alternative graduation ideas because they weren’t ready to admit they wouldn’t be able to have a traditional graduation.

“I think we’re getting the gist that everyone is starting to accept it,” Condie said.

Jones reached out to other schools to find out what options they were considering. Condie said when Jones presented the three options, the leadership students decided to put them up to a vote of the students and not brainstorm more ideas. They used the same online voting system the school uses to vote for leadership and for Prom and Homecoming king and queen.

Condie said Jones has told the students that if social distancing guidelines are relaxed over the summer, the school will put on a traditional graduation program

“But if it doesn’t happen before August, it probably won’t happen,” she said.

While the school closure during the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the seniors the last 10 weeks of their senior years, their spring sports seasons and the memories they would have made, Condie said there have been some silver linings.

Many community members have joined an Adopt-a-Senior Facebook group, and showered the graduates with a host of treats and gifts. They’ve also been touched by the outpouring of support from the community, including the “Be the Light” event at the school where community members drove through the parking lot to show their support.

“People have been there for us, even people who are not connected to us,” she said. “We’ll always be remembered as that class that had to quarantine.”

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