By Madilyn Moore
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yukon Public Schools made the decision to postpone the graduation ceremony that regularly occurs in the Jim Norick Arena at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
Instead, the district planned a virtual graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 on the YPS Facebook page Tuesday night.
The ceremony was meant to resemble conventional graduations, speakers and all.
“It will be the same as traditional graduation,” said Yukon High School principal Melissa Barlow said before the virtual ceremony. She planned the introduction, then speeches by Kole Frederick (senior class president), Caralyne Conley (student council president) and Tristan LaRose (valedictorian representative) and then graduation slides.
The graduation slides spotlighted all 611 graduates from YHS.
The majority of students submitted a slide, but we made slides with a graduation picture for those that didn’t submit a slide,” said Barlow. “Every graduate is featured.”
2020 YHS graduate Emma McCarthey is enthusiastic to begin her studies in the fall at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“I will be majoring in creative writing next year and hope to work in a publishing house after college,” said McCarthey. “I hope to become a book editor someday.”
Like for most of this year’s graduates, this is not the dream scenario for McCarthey.
“This definitely is not how I’ve always imagined my graduation,” said McCarthey. “I can’t say I’m not disappointed, but I am thankful for how hard the district is working to keep us safe while still honoring our hard work and achievements.”
High school flew by for McCarthey and it feels surreal.
“It honestly still doesn’t feel like anything is really over,” said McCarthey. “On the last day of school, we had no way of knowing it would be our last day of high school ever. There was really no finality or closure, and we didn’t get to say our goodbyes. Even though I’ve spent years wishing high school was over and counting the days until graduation, at this point I’d give anything just to have one more day. Still, I’m looking forward to college, and I’m excited to see what my future holds for me.”
McCarthey has a positive outlook for the future and has words of encouragement for those in the same boat as her.
“Don’t give up hope just yet,” said McCarthey. “Right now, it feels like we’ve lost a lot, but these times will pass, and we’ll find new things to look forward to and more milestones to celebrate. We’re young and still have our whole lives ahead of us, so let’s try not to get too wrapped up in what should have been.”
Although they can’t be together physically, students are finding ways to celebrate together.
“A few of my friends and I have been talking about doing a video chat to watch the virtual slideshow together on graduation day,” said McCarthey.
“We’ve been looking forward to celebrating this day together for a long time, so we figured we might as well try to celebrate it together, even if we can’t actually be together.”
Hope isn’t all lost for a traditional graduation. Plans are underway for a physical graduation in the summer. The event is tentatively planned for July 18, 2020 at 10am at the YHS Miller Football Stadium.
According to Barlow, despite the debated graduations and celebrations, graduates should still be proud.
“While this is not how any of us envisioned the year ending, do not let it undermine the outstanding accomplishments you have achieved while at YHS,” said Barlow.
“I am very proud of your class, for always caring about those around you, including your peers and your community. You have succeeded in many areas and have grown into phenomenal young adults. I am so very proud of you! Congratulations.”