2020 was not the year for families to sit in an auditorium and watch graduating seniors walk across a big stage to receive their diploma.
The COVID-19 pandemic and state guidelines forced school districts to adapt with face masks and social distancing measures. For Linden Community Schools, this meant holding a graduation event Monday, June 15 and having students and families come at certain times depending on their last name.
The 205 students in the 2020 graduating class of Linden High School were able to get their belongings from their lockers, return textbooks, pick up Project Graduation bags, take photos with their diplomas and more.
Hannah Wabel, valedictorian, said it went “really good.”
“This was really cool. I’m glad they did this. It went really smoothly. It wasn’t crowded in there or anything,” she said.
Wabel had been back to the high school previously to record her valedictorian speech that was included in the school’s online commencement presentation. Monday, June 15 was the first time all the students were able to walk the halls and get their belongings from their lockers.
“It’s sad. It’s so weird to think that people are going to come in next year and we’re not going to be here,” she said.
She said it was “weird” going through the last few months of school while stuck at home. Wabel’s motivation was low, and then she had to worry about taking AP tests.
“That was rough. It’s okay. It was a weird end, but we all did it,” she said. Wabel has plans to attend the University of Dayton.
Project Graduation organizers handed out bags that included gift cards from dozens of area businesses, a Hydro Flask, snacks and more. Students received their diplomas and took photos with their families in front of backdrops outside of the school in the sunny weather.
LHS Principal Darin Dreasky said the event went better than expected.
“Never having done it before, we tried to over plan. We had great weather. I think the kids appreciated it. Our staff came out in masks. They supported it. It really came off nice, I thought. It was really well done. Parents and kids seemed to appreciate it, and that’s nice,” he said.
The school also gave out athletic certificates, medals, eighth grade letters, fifth grade time capsules and more.
“We had all kinds of stuff in there for them. They were surprised to get some of that stuff back. Then we had to clean out their lockers and had all of their personal belongings and their diplomas,” he said.