Seniors await Graduation plans

Park honors original commencement date


Noah Orloff

Park alum Natalia Caraballo gives her classmate a hug during Graduation June 6, 2019. After Gov. Tim Walz banned all large in-person commencement ceremonies for the class of 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic May 8, Park had to reevaluate its Graduation plan.

Talia Lissauer

Breaking down in tears of frustration was the only way senior Shayla Miller felt she could react after discovering that Gov. Tim Walz banned all in-person graduations in Minnesota due to COVID-19 for the class of 2020.

“I know that Graduation is only applicable to a small number of people in comparison to how many people are impacted by the pandemic, but it’s such a big moment and to know that, as of now, there is no chance of having a traditional one was just like, so upsetting for me,” Miller said. 

While he was always hoping for the in-person ceremony, senior Rakesh Plantz said it’s important that seniors are able to get closure while also keeping everyone safe. 

“I just want some way that the class of 2020 can connect and actually get a Graduation because I know this has never happened. Nobody’s graduated but not had the chance to have an actual ceremony and not have a chance to have a party, it’s always been tradition that we do that,” Plantz said.

Park has decided to honor the original date for Graduation June 2 by creating a video that will premier 7:30 p.m. June 2 on YouTube, according to 6425 News. The video will feature seniors as kids and their future plans. Speakers include valedictorians, Dollars for Scholars and administration.

Although community members were fishing for answers, Miller said she was disappointed that such an important decision was made when there is so much uncertainty about the future. 

“We have no idea what the world’s going to look like a month from now,” Miller said. “It was good for (Walz) to put out something because I know a lot of people were pushing for answers, but I just feel like it was kind of preemptive of an idea to give people some sort of closure. But I don’t think that it needed to be like a blanket, everybody needs to do this.”

No matter what happens with Graduation, Plantz said the class of 2020 has left its legacy.

“In the end, this will be a year that we remember no matter what. It’s going to be a year that the history books remember. Our class has an amazing story to tell to our kids or grandkids and anybody who asked because we’re the class that didn’t get a Graduation. We’re the class that didn’t get spring sports. We’re the class that had our entire end of high school taken from us and I know that’s like a sad thing but in the history books you’ll probably see this and it’s crazy that we’re in the middle of it,” Plantz said.

After watching her older friends walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, Miller said she had always pictured herself doing the same and she wants others to consider how important their graduation was to them.

“I think everyone needs to understand that as much as it seems like a trivial thing because it’s 350 students in St. Louis Park where there are 45,000 people,” Miller said. “(But) if people think about how much their Graduation meant to them and how big of a milestone that was and now some people don’t even get a Graduation.”

Caps and gowns will be delivered to students by Ms. Busse, Mr. Goggleye and Mr. Meyers, according to 6425 News. Families will receive an email with the date and estimated time of arrival.