Plenty of pomp and unusual circumstances will be the prevailing memories for high school graduations of the Class of 2020.
Mountain View High School held the first part of its graduation activities on Monday at the Bruin Bowl. A steady stream of vehicles decorated with signs, streamers and balloons made their way from a staging area behind the school to the Bruin Bowl. The transportation was everything from convertibles and four-wheel drive trucks to a vintage 1960s era VW van and even a 20-foot-long stretch limo. Once inside the stadium, graduates posed for pictures in front of a large “MV” sign and accepted their diplomas from an administrator while family members cheered them on from the vehicles. On their way out, seniors signed their name in chalk on the wall of the stadium.
Mountain View administrator Trevor Schramm said most of the graduating seniors were happy with Monday’s ceremony, stressing social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Some students have told me they love it,” Schramm said. “They get more individual attention this way then when we hold it at the Marriott Center. When it’s there we averaged one graduating senior about every five or 10 seconds. This way, it’s about every minute or so.”
A total of 343 seniors were expected to attend during Monday’s ceremony, which began at 8 a.m. and was set to finish around 4 p.m. To spread the graduates out safely, the day was divided into four two-hour sessions.
Graduating senior Mia Wesley led Mountain View to the Class 5A volleyball championship last November, was named the Valley Player of the Year and will play next season at the University of Portland. She arrives in the Rose City on June 28 to join her new teammates.
“This graduation is new, but it’s really fun,” she said. “I know all the teachers have been working really hard to make it a good experience for all the graduates. Honestly, I like it better than a normal graduation because it’s special, you know? No one else before us has had this kind of graduation. I’ve got my family here with me and that’s all I really need. It’s cool to see I’m not alone in this. Everyone is going through the same thing.”
Tatum Swanner is headed to the University of Utah after having earned a four-year scholarship.
“It was definitely a little crazy and super weird riding in the back of a truck instead of being inside an arena, but I enjoyed it,” she said. “Having my immediate family here was great for me. With what we’re going through in the world, this is enough, I’m just glad we get to do something for graduation.”
Wesley Skarda’s father rented the vintage VW van just for the graduation experience.
“This is pretty cool,” Wesley Skarda said. “Honestly, I didn’t want to listen to the speeches anyway. This is really different considering we’re not going through a big ceremony.”
The scene will be repeated with some variations throughout the Utah Valley. School districts have planned live video commencement exercises next week. Alpine School District high schools will live stream their commencements on the evening of May 28 and will follow with a fireworks show.