In almost every facet of man’s existence, the confluence of tradition and ritual creates the forces that allow a culture to rise. They give life and inspire hope. With an amazing predictability, they nurture civilization.
But this year, a virus, Covid-19, showed up in nearly every country on earth and, with an unyielding and deadly grip, caused entire nations to rethink the way the way they live, work and play. But man has always fought for what is his and this year in Pueblo, the city feels commencement for its high school seniors is a fight worth having.
“We wanted to do our best, honor them in a way no other class had before,” said Dalton Sprouse, spokesman for School District 60. “This will be talked about for the rest of their lives,” he said. So, this rite of spring---commencement---will go on, albeit in a new, high tech and imaginative way.
When it was determined that social distancing would rob the Class of 2020 and its families from holding a traditional graduation and an evening for each city high school at Dutch Clark Stadium, the district knew it had to come up with something quick---and fast. “It’s going to feel like a traditional ceremony,” said Sprouse. Except that it will be electronic, but less 20th and more 21st century in line and form.
The ceremony will still check the boxes on certain things; valedictorians, salutatorians, class presidents and district officials will still speak. But the speeches will be watched via computer and not under the stars. “The beauty of this,” said Sprouse, “is that families can gather in their own homes and see it when they want. They can share it with family members who can’t travel, share the link and see it whenever.” Families also won’t have to worry about things like rain outs or whatever the weather or the world might throw at them.
The district, said Sprouse, has spent the last few weeks creating a blueprint for what commencement might look like in a new century. Class leaders from each of the schools, Central, Centennial, East, South and Paragon, the city’s alternative high school, will all have their moment to look back and, also, look ahead. So, too, will all the graduates. “We brought them in six at a time,” said Sprouse. “We were always under the ten-person limit.” To ensure students’ health, “Each step of the way we worked with the health department,” including asking graduates to wear a mask. The district, said Sprouse, was meticulous about observing and adhering to a sanitary environment for students and staff.
Following each of the students’ ceremonial walks across the stage to receive their diplomas, they will stop for a portrait photo courtesy of the district. “It’s been an unbelievable effort, tireless,” Sprouse said.
Commencement 2020 will begin May 28the and finish on the 30th, said the district spokesman. Paragon seniors will be first to graduate followed by Pueblo Centennial, Pueblo South, and Pueblo East.
The Class of 2020 shares a unique timeline. Born in the aftermath of 9/11, it also lived through an economic recession and, now, an almost science fiction-like pandemic that has thoroughly changed life in every world time zone. It has adapted unlike any class before and now, as it enters the world as young adults, it will also be charged with living in and making the essential changes for all those who willfollow.
Pueblo District 60’s virtual commencement can be viewed at bit.ly/D60Graduation.