Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Graduating During A Pandemic

Well, my son was going about his senior year and then the pandemic hit. Everything changed. He had to finish the year online. And oh, graduation was going to be virtual.

People complained. A virtual graduation? No. Not cool.

The school district listened. They said there would be a short ceremony recognizing each graduate. There was only 4 guests allowed. Masks mandatory. Temperatures would be checked. And when they said short, they meant it: 10 minutes long. No lingering.

I was fine with it. My son was fine with it. Who wants to sit around for 3 hours? He didn't. I didn't.

And so we arrived at his school at his allotted time. His four guests were with him: myself, his father, his sister, and his Nona.

I thought everything was set up well. Sections were blocked up and you followed bear paws on the floor. Bear paws, because the bear is the school mascot.

Along the way you could stop and take photos. Tommy saw several of his teachers who said how much they'd miss him.

You could take off masks for photos, but we usually kept ours on.

It was surreal to pass by familiar spots that Tommy has spent for 4 years. He would point, "Oh, I'd sometimes sit there at lunch." I know it must've felt strange to him.

But sometimes strange isn't bad. He'll always have these memories. He can tell his future kids, if he has any, "Yeah, I graduated during a pandemic. We had to wear masks. It was fast."

His time on stage was brief, but he was fine with that. A professional photographer was there to take shots.

I choked up a few times, I won't lie. That's my boy and he's done with school. Well, for now. He is attending community college. But even that'll be different since it'll be remote classes for the fall.

He said goodbye to some more teachers on the way out. He was given a t-shirt and a sign. Oh, and of course he had his diploma. The teachers made lots of noise when each graduate walked out for the last time. Tamborines, whistles, lots of woohoos.

And then that was it, and it felt strange, but okay. It's not the complete last time we'll be at the school. Natalie will be there after she completes 8th grade. Tommy will once again walk the halls. But for now? That was it. That's a wrap.

Tommy said as we walked to the car, "I'm going to miss that school. I'm going to miss going to class."

My heart squeezed a bit. Was it how I thought his high school career would end? No. But I appreciated what the school did to make the graduates feel special. There will still be a virtual graduation, but I am so grateful they allowed the students to say goodbye.

We took more photos at home, since they didn't want you to linger at the school.

My husband isn't big on photos, so I didn't make him take that many. I can see his jaw start to clench when he's had enough.

Yeah, you can't control Tommy's expressions.

And Tom was basically done at that point. I know some men are out there and they love photos. My husband? Is not one of them.

I told him he could go after this and he high tailed it into the house before I could change my mind.

Natalie left as well. "I gotta get back to Animal Crossing!"

We got a shot with my mom, and again with the expression, because Tommy gets impatient with photos as well. But my mom looks good!

I took a photo with my boy:

Tommy was all, "Can I be done?"

I said please, just a few more.

I got one with his diploma:

He took a photo in the shirt he got. I truly hope all his wishes come true:

And here's the sign he got:

I wanted to get one final shot of him with his Toy Story toys. He used to be obsessed with them. I thought about selling them at one point, but I couldn't. All I could think about was how he used to carry Woody and Buzz around. He had the slinky dog at one point, but it got so twisted that we had to get rid of him. For the longest time he was obsessed with Mr. Potato Head.

So no. I couldn't sell them.

And so they watched as our boy became a man.

We're all excited to see who he'll become.


  1. I'm glad some sort of semblance of a graduation could happen!! And honestly, if you're one to not like to sit through long ceremonies, this could be the better approach, LOL!

  2. This is amazing! Congratulations to the graduates!


  3. Aww this is such a great idea! I love it. Congrats again to him!

  4. The last photo is too cute. I'm excited to see this next chapter of his life as well. Congratulations!

  5. Well, that is a graduation that everyone will remember for life!!! Congrats!!!

  6. I love that the school did this. Our high school just did a car parade.

  7. I'm glad the school still found a way to make it special! Congrats to your grad!

  8. You're lucky that you guys did have an actual graduation. I have a senior too and we did a virtual graduation. WE basically logged on to watch as they had a little speech and then called out each graduates name and showed their photos. I"m glad that your school held a real one!

  9. Cool idea. I have no kids graduating but would love to try this for fun.

  10. Marta SkeledžijaJune 19, 2020 at 3:54 AM

    This is amazing! Congratulations to the graduates!

  11. I'm a high school teacher and graduating during pandemic is a bit sad to me! Hope you still had some fun! :)

  12. Congrats! What a crazy year - I am glad my kids are not in transition years but feel bad for the graduates who had to miss their ceremonies. Seems like your district did a good job of providing something that was safe!

  13. Congratulations! For your son's graduation but also for your beautiful family!

  14. Congrats! I can't imagine how tough it was for him. It has been such a crazy and unprecedented time and I feel so horrible for everyone who missed out on these events.

  15. OH wow it sounds really amazing and yeah Congratulations for your son's graduation now a real life is waiting ahead for him..Best wishes..Stay safe..Great work...

  16. I love these photos! I'm happy to hear that he was able to have a graduation after all. :)

  17. I can only imagine how graduation was this year! That lost photo you got with him walking away and his Toy Story toys watching made me tear up! Good luck to him!

  18. I love everything you did. congratulations

  19. So glad your son got some pomp and circumstance. My sister graduated college during the pandemic and her school didn't really do anything to acknowledge it.

  20. Well,of course it's not the usual graduation but it's still great. And the memories are still precious.

  21. I love to see how your sons school handled graduation. Our local schools did not have anything except a drive by. Congratulations to you both! 🚢👓🍕

  22. Congratulations! I'm glad that they were able to do something special for the grads given the current situation. While it may not seem like anything big to most people, this is a major milestone for them and they have been picturing it a specific way all their lives... to not have that can be a big let down! The t shirt and sign were great additions, a fun way to show a little extra love from the teachers and the school staff. I did crack up with the pictures and his faces - my husband is like that. When he gets bored he starts making crazy faces in all our photos lol

  23. thanks for sharing this experience. it is curious how much we can adapt and still enjoy our time as much as we want

  24. That foto at the end is priceless, as is graduating during a pandemic. Congrats to your son and to you mom for holding it all together. Ceremony may have been a bit anticlimatic, but at least it wasn't boring. ; ) Very nice post.

  25. Congrats to him! I know it must be a totally different experience than what we're all used to. I really like this though! I agree, traditional graduations are kind of annoying because of all the sitting. This was a great compromise!


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