A celebration like no other for Class of 2020

A celebration like no other for Class of 2020
Posted on 06/06/2020
Roll out the blue and gold -- it’s time to bedeck the town, your vehicles, yourselves and your social media accounts in the colors of Tahoma to honor our beloved graduating Bears!

On Wednesday, June 10, the Tahoma High School Class of 2020 will graduate in a most unusual way. Instead of the traditional ceremony at White River Amphitheater, seniors will end their high school days on the THS campus as part of a day-long celebration that follows strict guidelines made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Class of 2020 has “grit and resilience,” Principal Terry Duty said. “Every time we’ve asked our seniors and senior parents for something around graduation, they’ve come up with a way to make it extra special.”

“When we said they had to wear a mask, they said ‘Fine -- we’re gonna wear a mask, but they’re gonna be really cool masks.’ When we said graduation was going to have to be very different, they said ‘Great -- we’re going to make it different, and it’s going to be the best day, ever.’”

Beginning at 11 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m., the ceremony will follow a precise schedule that permits graduates to take one last walk through their school. Students will arrive at a scheduled time and be dropped at the east entrance. Each senior must wear a facemask. They will then take their final walk as students through the decorated building with another senior, at a safe distance, and exit the west end. Their parents or guardians will drive to the parking lot behind the football and track complex and await their graduate; parents will be permitted to watch their graduate on stage from a designated viewing area.

After leaving the school building, seniors will walk past the athletic fields before arriving at the football and track complex, where they will remove their mask, walk across a stage to pick up their diploma cover, turn their tassel, replace their mask and quickly leave to rejoin family as graduates. The student and family then will leave the campus via Kent-Kangley Road SE.

While no spectators will be permitted at the football and track complex or elsewhere on campus, we know that the community is eager to help us celebrate our incredible graduates. We're grateful for your support and love for the senior class of 2020, and we’re sharing ideas for how to participate as part of this message.

Photos will be taken of each graduate on stage, and a video compilation of the graduation will be created and shared with Tahoma graduates and families. Other traditional elements of the graduation ceremony, such as music and speeches, are being recorded and will be posted online at 7 p.m., at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Senior class co-presidents Nic Olson and Peyton Raybon help lead portions of the virtual ceremony. Olson said that when school buildings closed in mid-March, he and his classmates couldn’t believe that the closure would be very long, and imagined that graduation would be a constant because it was months away.

“Everything has moved slower than we expected. Finding out we’re still able to have graduation was a big relief. We’re very thankful that we’ll be able to do it,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard for 12 years. We finally made it. The world has thrown a lot at us, but we were able to roll with the punches and we’re coming out strong.”

Raybon said that the class of 2020 is filled with intelligent people, who are fighters, and that they have weathered a series of challenges together over the past four years.

“I think honestly that we’re going to be okay, and that it made us more thankful for what we already had,” she said. “I’m hopeful that we are able to appreciate the time that we did have together even more because of this.”

Community members who wish to honor the Class of 2020 are encouraged to display blue and gold decorations and signs on June 10. We invite you to join us by wearing blue and gold, and hanging decorations or signs in the windows of your homes, businesses and cars. A special graduation frame is available for Facebook users on the Tahoma High School and Tahoma School District Facebook pages. If you take photos of yourself in your best blue and gold spirit wear and would like us to share them on social media, please PM them to our Facebook page, our Instagram account or email them to TSDMessages@tahomasd.us.

The Maple Valley City Council created a proclamation declaring June 10 “Tahoma High School Class of 2020 Day,” urging citizens to wear blue and gold to recognize and honor the class of 2020. For the proclamation, click here: https://bit.ly/MVproclamationClassOf2020

This year’s traditional Senior Awards Night was celebrated via video. If you missed it, please click here: https://youtu.be/m1KBsHA5auI

The public is asked to stay away from the high school campus on June 10 to avoid group gatherings, which would violate state and county guidelines for this event. Thank you for understanding, and for helping us to celebrate this exceptional class of students graduating during the midst of such an unprecedented time.

This article appeared in yesterday's issue of the district newsletter. For more news from our schools, click here: https://bit.ly/TSDtahomaMatters5June2020
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