Park hosts alternative Graduation ceremony

Graduates gather in cars at the high school for a final goodbye


Abigail Prestholdt

Graduate Elliot Rickert greets friends and family during the car parade June 23. St. Louis Park celebrated the graduation ceremony in the high school parking lot June 23.

Gabriel Kaplan

Graduating senior Emma Roloff said the social-distancing style graduation ceremony felt strange to her, though only due to the unique set up of the event.

“I can’t really describe the feeling. It’s just so different and just so out of like the ordinary,” Roloff said. “Surreal is pretty good (word for it). I don’t know. It’s just different, but not in a bad way.”

Hosted June 23, the graduation allowed seniors to walk across the stage and pick up temporary diplomas, watch speeches from peers, and say goodbye to their friends, teachers, and administration. According to principal Scott Meyers, he was grateful Park was able to host the event and allow students and staff alike a final goodbye before graduates move on from the high school.

“There was a lot of doubt that this would be able to happen, and so I think it does help with closure,” Meyers said. “I know for the adults, myself included, and our teachers, we were really excited to be here and see everybody just to visually say goodbye.”

Cynthia Owens, also a graduate of the class of 2020, said she had been looking forward to the makeshift ceremony, though she was nervous over how exactly the event would play out due to poor communication.

“I was excited, but kind of nervous because I didn’t know how they were doing it because a lot of different schools were doing it different ways,” Owens said. “It was all over the place, like they weren’t giving us all that information at once. It was like ‘I’m gonna give you a little bit here, a little bit there’ and it was like a lot of last-minute stuff.”

According to Roloff, while the event went smoothly, she disappointed with the oddity of the event and not being able to host it on the field.

“(I missed) sitting together on the turf. Being on the turf is just so different than being in a parking lot and being in cars. So that was just like the main thing I would want to change,” Roloff said. “Everyone was outside of their cars, but like being on the turf is a big (thing), but I’m glad we got to walk across the stage.”

Owens said she will likely remember driving into the lot to see her fellow graduates, though the ceremony does not make up for other hallmarks of senior year taken by COVID-19.

“I feel like (I’ll remember) pulling up and finding everybody, seeing where all our friends were, and stuff like that, and probably the end and the parade,” Owens said. “It was exciting and cool and fun, but it still doesn’t make up for (events) like our prom.”

Roloff said most of all, she appreciates the chance to say goodbye to her high school years just as a senior might in any year — with some slight logistical changes.

“I was just relieved,” Roloff said. “It was the only thing that I really wanted to happen. So I’m really thankful for everything that they’ve put into it. They did a lot for us, and I’m really grateful for what they did.”