MISHAWAKA – It’s no surprise to anyone that COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of just about everyone on the planet, some more severely than others. Laborers have suffered from lack of income, medical professionals have been working practically non-stop to help the sick and students have had to grin and bear a complete restructuring of the educational process on the fly. Amid this mess, no one can be blamed for asking for a little normalcy or tradition.
That is why the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 is so important. Naturally, there have been several adjustments to keep the event safe for all involved, but the organizers have done their absolute best to ensure that the students and their families get to enjoy their special day.
For starters, the date of the graduation ceremony is still May 1. There will be an earlier ceremony for adult and graduate students at 10:30 a.m., with the rest of the students having their graduation at 5 p.m. the same day. Between the two ceremonies, the gym will be thoroughly cleaned, reducing the risk of contact tracing. The number of tickets allowing students to invite those they would like at the ceremony has been reduced from eight per student to two per student. Each “family group” must have six feet between them, and there will be no faculty at the actual ceremony.
On the evening of April 30, there will be a ceremony for the Class of 2020, since they were unable to have a ceremony last year. Scheduling for this event will look similar: walking, the same graduation speech, and as much social distancing as possible.
There will be a rehearsal of the event in the Everest-Rohrer Auditorium an hour before the real deal, and the graduates will leave from there and walk the campus. In case of rain, the rehearsal will take place in the Goodman gym, and the students will have to forego walking.
After all the festivities in the gym, students will be able to spread out across campus to see their professors. The different degrees will have stations set up all over with flags to denote which is which. This will allow the students and their families to congregate and talk with the professors outside, further decreasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. Unfortunately, in the case of rain, this part of the ceremony might not happen, as there would be no other way to keep it socially distanced.
“The main thing is, we want to celebrate in honor of the graduates in the best way that we can with the restrictions that we have,” Registrar Jeanne Fox said. “We know this is important to them and we want to celebrate.”