Milpitas High School’s class of 2020 graduated in a socially distanced ceremony at the end of June. The ceremony was split up over two days. Half of the class participated in the ceremony on Wednesday, June 24th, and the second half on Friday, June 26th.
Families of the graduates stood in a line, socially distanced from other families. The graduates stood in a different line, also six feet apart from one another. As each graduate was called, they walked across the stage while their respective families walked parallel to the stage to cheer the graduate on. Then, both the families and the graduates walked out of the stadium and into an area where they could take pictures.
MHS Principal Francis Rojas was proud of how “smoothly” the ceremony ran, and was grateful to the community members that made the event possible, he said by email.
“This year’s graduation was a special one—a ceremony set apart from the 15+ ceremonies I have attended as a teacher and school leader,” Rojas said. “We have received so many compliments about how it was very special for our grads to cross the stage in our own stadium with their family up close to witness this milestone. It was very special and a week later, I’m still emotional about it all.”
Arian Golbakhsh, whose younger brother graduated this year, attended the ceremony on Wednesday. Golbakhsh graduated from MHS with the class of 2018, and she said that the ceremony felt much more intimate than usual because each family was able to walk in front of the graduate as they walked across the stage.
“The crowds are less, which was also pretty cool,” Golbakhsh said. “They also had stations for families and grads to take photos together. I think for families, it was definitely a plus, but for the graduates themselves it might’ve felt a little lonely as they couldn’t really sit with their friends/peers.”
For Rishi Donapati, however, a graduating senior who also partook in the ceremony on Wednesday, the ceremony did not feel like a “true graduation.”
“Although it was a lot nicer not having to stay in the sun for so long, I think I would’ve preferred a full ceremony,” Donapati said. “The sort of build-up it has with all the waiting and the entire crowd makes it feel much more special. This grad just felt quite short-lived and a little empty.”
The anticipation of an uncertain future amidst the pandemic has made it difficult for some seniors to plan ahead. Koby Huynh graduated alongside Donapati, and though he had a more positive view of the ceremony, he is worried about the future.
“I feel very scared because the curve isn’t flattening,” Huynh said in a text conversation. He also added: “I have been distracting myself with YouTube and video games.”
The MHS community is already planning for the coming year. According to a pop-up on the MUSD website, the district is deciding between two paths to continue the 20-21 school year–either instruction will be 100% online for the first half of the school year or there will be a hybrid of in-person and online instruction.
“At our June 23 Board of Education Meeting, we announced that all MUSD students will begin the year in 100% distance learning for the first month of the 2020-21 school year,”Superintendent Cheryl Jordan wrote in a letter to the MUSD community. “From there, and based on the latest guidelines provided by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (PHD), we will implement a phased-in, hybrid approach to allow staff and students back on campus for in-person learning.”