FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) In the absence of a traditional commencement ceremony, graduating seniors at Lathrop High School are holding a parade to celebrate their accomplishment. Like other high schools in the community, they also captured their adjusted, socially distanced ceremony on video.
Students and staff at Lathrop High School have planned a parade and prepared a video to recognize outbound seniors. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)
Their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic have involved remote schooling and adjustments to their post-high school plans.
Kaihinjik Alexander, a senior at Lathrop, has been heavily involved in extracurricular activities this year. In addition to being on the Junior Varsity Ballroom Dance Team, he helps students with mental illness or suicidal thoughts reach a supportive community.
Alexander has had a difficult time with remote schooling since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “I’m a very social student. I learn much better if I’m in an environment with other students surrounding me who are all asking questions at the same time and learning together. Doing it online and doing it at home is very isolating.”
Alexander has tried to focus on the good side by remembering the high school moments already experienced. He said, “Even though this past quarter hasn’t been what we wanted it to be, COVID-19 cannot take away the past four years of high school we’ve already had.”
He went on to say, “There will be a time again when this is over, and it might not be by August, and it might continue going into the next year, but no matter what, we will always have had this time together.”
Lianna Tuck ran track and played football and flag football during her years in high school. She plans to attend Kapiolani Community College in Hawaii next year.
Tuck found a bright side to having to adapt to remote schooling. "At least we didn't get finals. Everyone's probably happy about that," she said.
While he was hoping to have the ceremony at its traditional Carlson Center location, Alexander is excited for the parade, and to see his graduation on television. “I thought we weren’t going to have graduation at all, and I’m very appreciative of the staff and other students who have helped set up these different events,” he said.
Tuck says she was most looking forward to being with her friends and saying last goodbyes. “It wasn’t my graduation fantasy at all. But I feel like the Lathrop staff and students have made the most out of this year and the most out of the situation.”
While the last quarter has required adaptation on the part of the class of 2020, Alexander is hopeful that his generation will use this experience to make things better for the next. “We are a very, very hardy generation. We were born in the aftermath of 9/11 and we grew up in the time were we were afraid to go to school because of school shootings, and we’re graduating in a pandemic,” he said.
Lathrop High School’s graduation airs May 15 at 7 p.m. on Channel 11.
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