FERNDALE, Wash. — The Ferndale High School graduating class of 2020 has faced unique challenges and disappointments since February due to health safety concerns and state mandates for physical distancing and self-quarantining during the COVID-19 disease pandemic. And their graduation celebrations and ceremony were forced to follow the same line. FHS staff and district administrators have spent the last few months trying to determine what options were available, what graduates wanted and how to pull it off.
Some parents received permission to organize a parade on Friday, June 13th, that dovetailed with a Stadium Lights and Drive-through event organized by FHS staff.
Parade participants gathered in the Phillips 66 Sportsplex parking lot and then proceeded up 2nd Avenue, down Main Street, along 3rd Avenue and then onto Washington Street before turning down Golden Eagle Drive and onto the FHS campus where they participated in the Stadium Lights and Drive-Through event.
Then on Saturday, there was a unique graduation ceremony that in some respects could be considered more personal and intimate than the typical crowded event with family in the stands struggling to locate their graduate and accolades going out to the class as a group.
Saturday’s graduation started off with speakers addressing a handful of people but mostly addressing the camera as their presentations were being recorded to be included in a video production of the entire ceremony to be provided to the graduates. Following the speakers, graduates arrived at the FHS campus at predetermined times over several hours.
While organizers kept a nervous eye on the overcast skies, each graduate arrived in a vehicle accompanied by as many friends and family that could also fit in that vehicle. The vehicles queued in front of the auditorium and, one at a time, dropped off their graduate and then slowly drove between the tennis courts and the auditorium.
A stage was set up under the FHS mural on the west side of the auditorium. Graduates were introduced and crossed the stage to pick up their diplomas and pose for the cameras. This often included posing for those with cameras in the vehicle. The graduates would then continue to a 10-foot tall “2020” photo background for more friends and family photography opportunities.
Back in their vehicles, graduates then drove through a gauntlet of cheering teachers and staff as they proceeded off campus.
Participating school staff and teachers agreed this new style of graduation ceremony went off much more successfully than expected.