Bravo to the MCSD on a safe, healthy graduation

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After working at the Monticello Express for 10 years now, it was a privilege and an honor to get the chance to cover the Monticello High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony Sunday evening.

     Normally Pete Temple covers the ceremony, but the COVID-19 virus showed its ugly head, so the responsibility fell to me this year.

     It’s an extra special occasion this year. Again, due to COVID, so many public health measures were put into place to make sure the Class of 2020 had as normal a graduation as possible. The ceremony was moved outdoors to Dean Nelson Field versus inside the high school gym. The public was asked to refrain from attending. Instead, the seniors were allowed up to eight guests. The seniors were spaced out around the field, leaving plenty of space for their eight guests to congregate around them while social distancing from others. As the seniors made their way onto the stage, they social distanced on the track. No handshakes were exchanged on stage between the seniors and school board members. (Though I may have teared up when Superintendent Brian Jaeger presented his daughter, Payton, with her diploma on stage. Very special moment for sure!) And, as with practically anywhere in public, some people wore masks, others opted out.

     Hosting this monumental graduation ceremony was not an easy for the Monticello School District. Knowing the virus is still very much present in the community, they consulted Public Health to make sure they were following protocol. It’s good to know local Public Health officials were satisfied that the school was doing everything they could to keep people safe and healthy.

     It was pretty surreal walking through the fence and onto the football field, if I do say so myself. Chairs with the seniors’ names were spread far apart. Family units were setting up their lawn chairs. Many people were wearing facemasks. The graduation march was played over the loud speakers as seniors and their families walked in. (In sticking with the social distancing theme, the seniors were not allowed to march in together as a large group.)

     Despite the fact that honors night had to be held virtually, that prom was cancelled, that the senior parade was cancelled, and that other senior year memories were different than years’ past, the school made sure to give the Class of 2020 a decent send-off. Credit goes to Jaeger, High School Principal Joan Young, the school board, and the administration and grounds teams for pulling this safe and healthy graduation ceremony off.

     So much of our daily lives have been and continue to be upended thanks to COVID-19. We’re learning to now deal with it, accept the fact that it’s not going away any time soon, and attempt to live life with some sense of normalcy. And for the MHS seniors, they experienced some semblance of normalcy walking across the stage as their peers and families and friends cheered them on.


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