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CHHS Class of 2020 honored with outdoor commencement ceremony

By Lauren Johnson

“This is not the graduation that we expected, but we will forever remember this,” said Charles Henderson graduate Vanessa Gomez.

After not being able to finish out the school year together, the Charles Henderson High School Class of 2020 was able to come together one more time to celebrate on Thursday. The seniors from Charles Henderson and their family members were nothing but thankful and grateful for the opportunity to have a graduation ceremony, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Class of 2020 graduated with a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the football field, with graduates spaced six feet apart and families appropriately distanced in the stands to watch.

“I’m happy that we were able to graduate in a traditional way, and I’m glad that our school stood up for us and made sure that we got the correct graduation,”  said Salutatorian Ayush Patel.

The school followed regulations to insure the safety of everyone in attendance by limiting the number of people and by spacing the seats out by six feet.

“We normally have graduation in the arena, but we had the opportunity to have it outside, which is the safest area,” said English teacher Casey Moore. “We moved it to the stadium, and we’re seating only five family members at a time for each graduate.

“Limiting the family members as been the hardest thing, but it’s the only way we can keep them safe and spread them out,” Moore said.

Moore explained that the school originally thought they would have no choice but to have one student graduate at a time in the cafeteria, but the opportunity opened for the school to host a ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. Parents, students, and school faculty members greatly appreciated Troy University for allowing the space to be used to honor these seniors. 

“Everyone was very happy and very pleased,” Moore said. “It was always our hope to offer a real ceremony, so we were thrilled to offer everyone a graduation.”

With this once in a life time opportunity, proud parents were relieved it was not taken away from their seniors who worked hard to reach this achievement.

“I’m most definitely proud of my baby, and I’m glad they set it up so we could be out here in the air with more space,” said Jennifer Foster. “I’m so thankful because I thought we weren’t going to have a graduation.”

Another mother, Shannon Hudson, said, “With everything that’s been going on, it means a lot for my daughter to be able to graduate with her class. It means so much to her, and it makes me happy too.”

For their final send off, graduates were encouraged to embrace challenges and to go out in the world and excel.