We’re all facing it. We’re all wondering why the most important milestones of our high school seniors’ lives are being ripped out from beneath them. How do we handle a graduation during a pandemic? We’re all trying to come up with the best solutions for them right now. What do we do with the hurt and loss they feel? And what alternative solutions can we provide while still protecting them from Covid-19?
Let’s start out with a few truths:
- It isn’t fair. Our seniors have every reason to be angry and hurt.
- They need our engagement. They need to feel our empathy and that we’re willing to witness their grief and process it with them.
- No substitute will make up for the loss. If we lose the opportunity to hold graduation, we will have a difficult time coming up with alternatives that fit this moment.
- We feel better when we’re doing something.
Take Creative Steps Forward
Ask your seniors what bothers them the most about missing a “traditional” high school graduation. Some of the things they note may spawn ideas for how to create an event that is still packed with meaning. Round table with small groups so they can hear other’s perspectives and feel less alone in their emotions. Engaging actively and holding space are two of the best things we can provide right now.
Alternative Graduation Plans
Can we engage with our seniors to create alternative graduation plans in the event we have to forego gatherings this spring and early summer?
- What would a virtual graduation during a pandemic look like?
- Can students create a video that celebrates each one of them? Perhaps, when the principle calls a name, that diploma flashes onto the screen, followed by two or three pictures that student.
Consider Additional Projects
Are there other ideas that could be implemented as well?
- Consider a project to help others who are less fortunate. Can they take part in a day of service while maintaining social distancing?
- Can they create a time capsule about this year and the solutions they came up with for this dilemma?
- Can you host a virtual dance party? Assign a DJ and let students connect with their friends on Zoom.
- Can teachers create a video scrapbook for the class, making sure each student has a little recording from at least one teacher?
No matter what option we choose, our high school seniors must know we care. Nothing will replace the thrill of hearing their name called, walking across a stage and moving their tassle. But with empathy, creativity, and some determination, we can rise to the challenge and create a bright spot in this unforgettable time. Graduation during a pandemic can still happen, as long as we understand that it will look and feel different, both for us and our seniors.