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Ceres High plans ‘virtual graduation’ as backup
• Videotaping of grads taking place this week
virtual graduation

Ceres High School is moving forward with plans for a virtual graduation as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Ceres Unified School District’s technology team will film seniors walking across the stage in their caps and gowns today, Thursday and Friday in an empty Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

“A digital graduation does not mean that we won’t have a traditional graduation,” Principal Rita Menezes stated in a social media post to CHS seniors and their families on April 30. “It’s just our backup plan. If restrictions are lifted later this summer, we will do everything possible to give you the experience of a traditional ceremony.”

Vianney Perez, Josh Pernetti, Siriana Gudino and Victor Hurtado will be among the students participating in the virtual graduation.

Participants signed up online using Google Classroom. 

“Everyone is bummed out,” commented Perez. “But there’s no reason to feel sorry for ourselves. There are better things to come in life.”

“I’m just happy they’re trying to do at least something for us seniors,” she added. “They told us it’s a backup plan in case they can’t do it later on.”

“We’d rather do that than have nothing at all,” Pernetti said. “It’s good they’re still trying to take care of us.”

“I talked with friends,” said Gudino. “We’re trying to look at the bright side of the situation. At least we have something. It shows they’re thinking about the seniors.”

“It sucks we may not have that experience other senior classes do,” commented Hurtado, “but at least we’ll have something to remember.”

Speeches delivered by the principal, valedictorian, salutatorian, associated student body president, board members and superintendent will be filmed between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, May 11.

“Our seniors especially have lost so much,” said Beth Jimenez, communications specialist for Ceres Unified. “In planning a virtual graduation, it was important that it be as close to the real thing as we can get, in case this turns out to be our only chance to celebrate the class of 2020. We realize it won’t be the same as the celebration that students and families envisioned even a few months ago. Yet as the parent of a graduating senior, I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able see my daughter walk the stage at all, so I’m excited that the district is investing the effort and resources to make these virtual graduations as authentic as possible.”

Ceres High has yet to set a release date for its virtual graduation video, which will premiere on social media if a traditional ceremony isn’t staged.

“Our technology team is exceptional,” said Menezes. “They’ll do their magic and merge everything into one nice polished video.”

Some school districts throughout the country are taking different approaches to the traditional graduation ceremony.  Teachers and staff from Whitesburg Christian Academy in Alabama are organizing a drive-by graduation. In the Houston, Texas area, graduations have been rescheduled from May 30 to August 1. The district said ceremonies, originally set for May 30, will take place in person August 1 at NRG Stadium.