MONROVIA (CBSLA) — Monrovia High School’s 360 seniors were supposed to graduate next month at the school’s football stadium. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was canceled.
So the principal came up with a drive-thru graduation plan instead that would allow the students to participate in the rite of passage in a safe way. The community was looking forward to the activity until Los Angeles County health officials prohibited all in-person ceremonies — even physically distanced ones.
“When that notification came through, my heart just sank,” Kirk McGinnis, principal, said.
But McGinnis and the president of the Monrovia Board of Education refused to give up on their plan and reached out to L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“[We] told her of our dilemma, and she asked me if we had had a plan, was it a plan in writing, and the answer was yes,” Rob Hammond, board president, said. “We had all the protocols written down to follow the guidelines.”
And on Friday, school officials got the answer they had been waiting for when Barger announced that graduation ceremonies — in the form of car parades — could take place across Los Angeles County.
“From last Friday to this Friday, it was seven days of a lot of work, and a little bit of nail biting,” McGinnis said. “So I was super excited today when I got that message.”
So on June 3, Monrovia’s Class of 2020 will be allowed to walk across a stage set up in the middle of campus after waiting inside of a car for their names to be called.
“We’ll be capturing the graduate walking across receiving their diploma and then our video production crew, when they live stream it, they’re going to display the students info below it,” McGinnis said.
Family members will have a chance to take photos from the safety of their car, and will leave after picking up their student.
“It’s definitely not traditional, but it really makes me feel cared about, which is really nice,” Kate Tadea, valedictorian, said. “And maybe if I see my friends in cars far away, that’ll be really pretty cool too.”
Barger said school districts will be allowed to host their own car parades by submitting a plan that allows for safe physical distancing by requiring all participants to be in an enclosed vehicle and wearing face coverings if the windows are open.
“I know that through all this emotion that’s gone on this year, it’s gonna be very emotional and impactful day,” Julie Burns, a parent, said. “We get two cars because we have twins, so I’m sure we’ll pack then full and drive through.”