Graduation in 2021


Arimus Adcock, Reporter

The seniors last year got a bum deal. A global pandemic swept the nation right before they had one of the most important ceremonies of their lives. Our resourceful staff did the best they could with a ceremony, but it was still greatly restricted. When the virus first swept through the country, I assumed things would be better by now. I never thought that my graduation could be in jeopardy. After all, things had an entire year to calm down. But it’s been seven months since the last graduation, and things are the worst that they have ever been in regards to COVID-19. This means that the fate of graduation for seniors this year is still up in the air. This fact led me to ponder what the graduation ceremony for this year could potentially look like. Will it be the same as last year, or will it be normal like it once was? What will determine that? 

To get the answers to these questions I emailed Mrs. Gannon, who is in charge of the graduation ceremony. What did she say would determine what graduation could look like? Well, the answer may surprise you: COVID-19 case numbers in El Paso County. The reason for that is that we usually have our graduation ceremony at the Pikes Peak Center, located in El Paso County. To be allowed to have the ceremony like we used to, case numbers need to be down enough for things to reopen to normal capacity. So the “best-case scenario is we will have the graduation ceremony at the Pikes Peak Center as we have in years past” (Cindy Gannon). Another possible scenario is that we can live-stream the event online if case numbers don’t allow for full capacity. The worst-case scenario would be that things would be the same as last year. What that looked like was that we had it on the football field with only the graduates present, six feet apart, and it was live-streamed. For an event as important as someone’s high school graduation, that’s not very ideal. 

To get a better idea of what seniors may be feeling about graduation, I asked some of them what their thoughts and fears were about this upcoming graduation ceremony. Michael Colvin wasn’t worried: “I trust the administration to do a good job with the ceremony, and I trust other students to follow proper safety measures.” Kyla Wells was a bit more worried, however. She said that she was “worried that we might not have the proper technological set up to let everyone give a chance to speak.” She watched last year’s ceremony and said that because there were too many people on the call, audio cut out sometimes. The people who were watching the Livestream didn’t hear all of the graduating senior’s speeches. 

With current case numbers being some of the highest that they’ve ever been in El Paso, the chances of an ordinary ceremony aren’t great. While things certainly look bleak, it is important to remember that May is still a long time away. If we want to have a normal graduation ceremony, we need to practice social distancing and remember to wear a mask. C’mon Panthers, let’s bulldoze this virus. #PantherStrong