For the first time that anyone can remember, Santa Clara Unified School District’s (SCUSD) seniors will not have a graduation ceremony. The shelter in place order is still in effect in Santa Clara County, forcing the District to cancel all graduation ceremonies.
In a letter sent at the end of April to members of the Class of 2020, SCUSD Superintendent Dr. Stella M. Kemp informed students of the decision to hold graduation ceremonies via livestream instead of in person. When schools were closed in March, the District was hopeful that graduation events would still go on or only be postponed, but with recent developments they decided to cancel graduations all together.
“This is not at all the senior year that you wanted. Nevertheless, you have remained diligent with your classes — keeping your attendance and participation high, and completing your assignments,” said Dr. Kemp in her letter. “Though the future may feel uncertain right now, know that the resilience, flexibility, and compassion you are exercising through this time are important and useful attributes for your continued success in life after graduation.”
The district’s five schools with graduating seniors will hold separate online ceremonies.
- May 29 – Mission Early College High School 5 – 6 p.m.
- May 29 – Wilson High School and Adult Education 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
- June 2 – New Valley High School 6 – 7 p.m.
- June 3 – Santa Clara High School 4 – 5 p.m.
- June 3 – Wilcox High School 5 – 7 p.m.
All graduation events will be live streamed on www.santaclarausd.org/livestream or on the District’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/santaclarausd/live. The district is inviting community members, friends and family to watch the ceremonies and show their support for the graduates.
Viola Smith, the Principal at Mission Early College says it was tough for her students to learn there would not be an in-person graduation ceremony this year.
“For the students, it’s just the culmination of everything that they’ve looked forward to and worked towards and worked hard for over their entire tenure in education. It’s like a right of passage for them,” said Smith.
Smith says, it took a while for students to come to grips with the change, but now most of them are embracing this new graduation format.
“They’ve dealt with the disappointment and now they’re bouncing back, leaning in and engaging in this process in putting together an online ceremony for them,” said Smith. “They’re submitting photos and videos and little sayings and all the things to make it personal for them.”
The community is doing the best it can to make this graduation special. On May 23, members of the Santa Clara Schools Foundation will display nearly 1,200 signs throughout the community. The district and the foundation are encouraging community members to decorate their yards and windows with well wishes.
Meanwhile, Mark Richardson, a member of the SCUSD board of trustees wrote an open letter to the Class of 2020.
“In our hearts, we are straightening your prom bow ties and holding the mirror for you to admire your new dress,” said Richardson in the letter. “We are cheering your last games and adore your strong faces as you shake hands, smile shyly and accept your diplomas. The year that we hoped for you did not appear, but I believe you will somehow make it unique and somehow better.”
Dr. Kemp has promised that when it’s possible, the district will work to make sure that seniors have a celebration to mark their achievement.
“Many of you long to see your friends, teachers, and school staff all in one place and we will make sure you have the opportunity to do that when it is safe to do so again,” said Dr. Kemp in her letter to seniors and their families.
Given the uncertainty of when the county’s health department will allow large groups to gather again, there is no timeline yet for when the event will occur.