Pomp & unusual circumstances

Tracy Area High School SUPT. Chad Anderson slides Hayden Ankrum’s diploma closer to the new graduate during Sunday’s 127th TAHS Commencement, which was held in the high school parking lot.

Robbed of a traditional commencement, members of Tracy Area High School’s

Class of 2020 received their diplomas Sunday in a unique parking lot ceremony

By Per Peterson

Kicking sand in the face of a pandemic that robbed them of their final, precious months of their senior year, Tracy Area High School’s Class of 2020 officially said good-bye to their high school days Sunday.

In a first-of-its-kind parking lot commencement, this year’s TAHS seniors picked up their Ziploc-protected diplomas from the passenger side of a vehicle in drive-thru fashion as part of the school’s 127th commencement ceremony; a total of 68 seniors received their diploma.

With no traditional walk across the stage in the gymnasium, this year’s seniors were truly honored in a most unorthodox way. Although it wasn’t the first outdoor graduation at TAHS — it was held on the football field years ago — it was the first in the parking lot.

“In most cases, parents don’t get to be right by their child when they get their diplomas, so that was pretty neat,” Anderson said. “And we had the parking lot set up in a way that parents and families could be there and respect social distancing. Some people are very mindful of that, while others not so much, but we had it set up in a way that everyone could respect each other.”

A makeshift stage was set up just to the south of the high school baseball field and facing the school building and dozens of cars, trucks and SUVs, each with this year’s seniors in tow. Amy Vang’s welcome speech blared over a loud speaker for all to hear to kick off the ceremony and was followed by a solo vocal selection by TAHS choir teacher Wendy Johnson. Commencement addresses were given by Tyler Timm, salutatorian Cheemeng Yang and Brooke Christian. The farewell address was given by Lucas Gervais — this year’s valedictorian.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on graduation.