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home : columns : dave fjeld
July 5, 2020

5/27/2020 11:10:00 AM
Freshening up graduation
We were all prepared for graduation like we had never seen it before and that's exactly what we got.
I didn't know what to expect when schools were announcing parades and drive-through graduations. I thought it might be interesting; it might even be fun. But was this really graduation? More circumstance than pomp? More informality than formality?
It was all that and a lot more.
I would venture to guess that everyone connected with graduation in 2020 found it refreshing, even exciting.
In Windom, the parade around Windom took about 20 to 30 minutes, if even that. In fact, it took as long, if not longer, to park graduates' cars in the west parking lot than to hold the parade.
But that's OK. It was the first time any school had ever proposed such an idea. And it was one of very few alternatives that schools were given to hold graduation.
Once all cars were in place, Windom senior Shelby Erickson stepped to the podium and gave a great speech, not only recognizing the times, but reflecting on their class's 13 years attending Windom Area Schools. It was a speech for the ages - and, hopefully, one of similar nature that won't need to be spoken again.
Once Shelby finished her speech, cars began pulling up to the curb. Graduates got out of their car, went to the table and picked up their diploma, then posed on the platform for a photo, stepped off, got back in their car and pulled away.
That scene was repeated more than 70 times Friday evening.
And, by 7:15 p.m., Graduation 2020 was complete.
When Windom Area High School Principal Bryan Joyce presented the Windom Area High School Class of 2020, horns began honking, lights began flashing, helium-filled balloons were released from some vehicles and the celebration was on.
The only thing that was missing, were hugs between classmates. In fact, there were actually a few. A group of guys couldn't avoid the opportunity and did some body bumps and hugs. Granted it was totally against what the Minnesota Department of Education offered for acceptable graduation conduct in these "unprecedented times," but it was pure celebration and, I dare say, relief.
Superintendent Wayne Wormstadt watched the celebration and, you could tell from his body movements, that it wasn't a celebration he wanted to break up, but knew he had to. He slowly walked over to the group and politely asked them to break up. And, respectfully, the new Windom alumni obliged.
The entire event was well-done and well-organized. The ceremony went smoothly and, most of all, everyone was respectful. As graduates' names were read, there could have been a lot of honking and cheering, turning graduation into a fiasco. But there was never even a slight indicator that would happen. Yes, there was applause once the graduate stepped to the platform for his or her photo. And that was the perfect response. Hats off to those attending, but a bigger hats off to 2020 graduates, who have experienced a graduation unlike any other.
Future parades
More than a few times I've heard people say that a graduation parade could very well be a part of graduation in the future.
It was so well received, not only in Windom, but in Mt. Lake and the communities of Red Rock Central, that it very well could be a new component of graduation. I think everyone along the parade route had a good time with it and graduates did a variety of fun things with their vehicles to celebrate their monumental moment.
Don't be surprised if a graduation parade, perhaps, precedes the traditional graduation in the future.
Were measures needed?
Schools really had little choice in how they had graduation. They had to abide by the MDE.
However, I firmly believe, given the opportunity, our smaller schools could have had a graduation ceremony in their gym, limited to parents with proper social distance seating.
On the upside, graduates received a commencement no one will ever forget.

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