PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A typical high school graduation sees seniors walking across a stage, receiving a diploma, and getting cheered on by peers and loved ones.
However, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Peoria Public Schools superintendent, said the end of the 2019-2020 academic year has been anything but typical.
“Suddenly the global COVID-19 pandemic altered our lives,” Dr. Kherat said.
This has forced staff and students to celebrate this milestone via television and a computer screen. Peoria High Schools’ virtual ceremonies, Saturday, honored more than 700 hundred 2020 graduates from Peoria, Manual and Richwoods high.
The pre-recorded ceremonies featured students reciting the pledge of allegiance, singing the National Anthem, and staff members acknowledging the graduates via slideshows.
William Wentworth, Richwoods High graduating senior, said he understood the administration’s decision for going virtual but he also said it’s a bittersweet moment.
“We won’t be able to see everyone or experience that’s normally experienced with a typical graduation,” Wentworth said.
Wentworth and fellow students said although they’re not having a traditional graduation, that doesn’t take away from their accomplishments.
“We’ve all been working hard for the last four years and now is our day to celebrate that kind of thing,” Wentworth said.
“We now have to look on the brighter side,” Taylor Anderson, Peoria High graduating senior, said. “We can be thankful for all the great things we’ve accomplished in the last four years.”
Dr. Kherat said she hopes this will still be a day to never forget.
“Hopefully this virtual celebration will give memories to look back on with a smile,” Dr. Kherat said.
She said the seniors also had the opportunity to get their diplomas from their respected schools after the ceremonies.