Highland celebrates socially distanced graduation

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For months, there were doubts that they would get a traditional graduation ceremony, but Saturday, 49 Highland High School seniors gathered on the football field to get their diplomas from school board President Nate Robinson.

The graduates were spread out on the football field and an audience limited to family members were gathered in the stands, with 6 feet of separation to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which had cut short their school year and eliminated many senior activities.

“We are making the best of a strange, strange year,” Superintendent Ken Crawford began his comments. “When you say you are the Class of 2020, people will always remember, they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, that was the year we lost nine weeks of school.’”

He noted that the previous year, the class lost two weeks of classes due to record snowfall.

“You owe us about 11 weeks of school,” Crawford said to laughter in the crowd.

Valedictorian Matt Butler and Salutatorian Makala Cox gave a joint speech.

“We had just as much fun outside of class with a variety of activities,” Butler said.

“Now our high school adventure is over, and our future is just beginning,” Cox said.

“It is our time to use what we have learned and experienced to contribute to a society in need of solutions,” Butler said.

Keynote speaker and social studies teacher Jeff Collins noted the school year “was like someone hit the pause button, or the fourth quarter was called because of lightning and not rescheduled.”

“These are weird times, and unfortunately, we are not done with it yet,” Collins said. “This pandemic has taken away many traditions that high school seniors get to enjoy as part of the graduation ritual.”

He noted, however: “There is one tradition that you have not only kept alive but passed all expectations and set a record that, hopefully, will never be equaled the longest senior skip day ever.”

Collins said the class is well prepared to go out into the world.

“All 49 of you will start the next chapters of your lives; some of you will begin your career; some of you will go off to college,” he said. “Forty-nine, men and women, 49 different sets of dreams and goals.”

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