High school community deliberates on how to proceed with senior events

Many signature events for the class of 2020 have been cancelled and the RJUHSD faculty, students and families struggle to find workarounds


Gazette file photo

Graduation ceremonies such as the one for GBHS’s class of 2019 pictured above are off the table with the current prohibitions on large gatherings.

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread at a rampant pace, new social distancing policies have been implemented. These include stay-at-home orders and the prohibition of gatherings larger than ten people. 

Milestone events such as graduations have been cancelled, leaving many seniors wary of the possibility of receiving a diploma in the mail or a dreaded virtual (Zoom) ceremony. 

“People want to experience walking across the stage knowing all your hard work has paid off and (you’re) getting the recognition you deserve,” senior Ashley Flinn said. 

In a letter addressed to students and Roseville Joint Union High School District parents on Mar. 19, Superintendent Denise Herrmann addressed the class of 2020 to acknowledge the stress and fears of missing out on these moments. 

“We want to acknowledge the class of 2020 and their families,” Hermann said. “We will work with teachers, counselors, and school site administrators to communicate next steps about end-of-year activities as they become available.” 

I feel pretty disappointed and sad because these were the events we were all looking forward to as seniors and now they’re cancelled.

— Kara Kleinbach

On Apr. 20 at 5 p.m. the RJUHSD District Board held an open meeting to gather opinions and solutions on how to move forward with the graduation ceremony. 

With over 700 members of the community in attendance, the board allowed for an open dialogue after citing ideas other schools have implemented such as virtual graduations and postponements. 

Many community members, in an effort to avoid the virtual concept, pushed alternative ideas such as drive-in graduations. 

Several principals stressed the workload in planning a graduation in an effort to derail postponements that would interfere with the new school year, as well as their opinions on the likelihood of teachers being present for a later graduation. 

However, the board chose not to make a final decision, but planned to release a survey to gather student feedback. 

The survey would include student preferences on a virtual versus in-person event, as well as the likelihood of their return over the summer, early fall, or even possibly next winter to officially commemorate their high school journey. 

High schools and colleges across the country have been faced with difficult decisions with regards to the status of end-of-year festivities.

Universities such as Yale, Stanford, and Harvard have chosen to cancel their ceremonies altogether while schools such as Chapman University and California Polytechnic State University have opted to postpone commencements for the fall or beyond.

“After a great deal of collaboration and listening, we have decided to postpone commencement, “ Chapman president Daniele Struppa wrote. 

“The overwhelming opinion is to move the ceremony to late summer or early fall and create the full experience our graduates have earned.”  

In addition to the questions surrounding graduation as a result of more action in other institutions, many GBHS seniors have feared the possibility of the cancellation of all events. 

We’re really trying to do whatever we can for seniors, but it really depends on how long this situation lasts.

— Kara Kleinbach

“As of now, everything we had planned for the end of the year has been cancelled. Senior Ball, Powderpuff, quad, rallies, etc. ,” Senior class president Kara Kleinbach said. 

“I feel pretty disappointed and sad because these were the events we were all looking forward to as seniors and now they’re cancelled,” GBHS senior Flinn said. 

Although many events have been cut, student government is still working to offer seniors recognition for their accomplishments despite COVID-19’s extra hurdles.

“COVID-19 makes it really difficult for us to plan anything because we aren’t able to meet all together,” Kleinbach said. “It’s a very fluid situation because we have no clue what’s going to happen in the future or how long everything will last.”

At the moment, the student government is persevering with hopes to be able to properly honor the class of 2020. 

“We want to plan some kind of Senior Sunset event over the summer, but nothing is concrete at the moment,” Kleinbach said. “We’re really trying to do whatever we can for seniors, but it really depends on how long this situation lasts.”