On an outdoor stage in front of an open grass field behind Lincolnwood High School, the Panhandle School District conferred 33 high school diplomas to the class of 2020 on Friday, July 10.
Not only did the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic force the ceremonies to be two months later than normal, they were also outside with graduates socially distanced more than six feet apart. Up to 50 family members and friends could gather on the lawn–provided they passed a mandatory temperature check at the entrance. The rest of the crowd could observe from their vehicles.
“I want you to know that better days are ahead,” principal Ken Schuster told the graduates, who were born in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks and graduated amid a pandemic. He thanked Superintendent Aaron Hopper and the custodial staff for their work on an atypical commencement, and advised graduates to “have faith and believe.”
After addresses from class salutatorian Sydney Herman, who will attend Illinois State University next fall, and valedictorian Evan Hopper, headed to Blackburn College, school board members Dana Pitchford and Linda Brown placed diplomas on a table for graduates to pick up as they crossed the stage.