A brief moment to celebrate: High school graduation drive-in ceremonies begin this week | TheUnion.com

A brief moment to celebrate: High school graduation drive-in ceremonies begin this week


High School: Bear River

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday

Where: Bear River football field

Graduating Students: 128

High School: Adult Education

When: To be determined

Where: N/A

Graduating Students: 9

High School: Nevada Union

When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 27 and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 28

Where: Nevada Union football field

Graduating Students: 331

High School: North Point

When: 9 am. to 1 p.m. today

Where: Don Baggett Theatre parking lot

Graduating Students: 53

High School: NU Tech

When: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 27

Where: Park Avenue Field

Graduating Students: 19

High School: Silver Springs

When: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 27

Where: Park Avenue Field

Graduating Students: 47

The current school year has been strange in Nevada County history.

Beginning with many missed school days in the fall due to the PG&E power shutoffs, students are bookending the year at home, completing their class work virtually or via take-home instructional packets as a global pandemic persists around them.

But the chaos hasn’t prevented the Nevada Joint Union High School District from trying to offer some sense of normalcy for its students, especially in the form of its graduation ceremonies. To avoid crowded gatherings, the district began planning staggered ceremonies for its graduating seniors three weeks ago, according to district Superintendent Brett McFadden, with the goal of allowing them to come to school for about five minutes with only their families in tow, receive their diploma, smile for the camera and return home. With the blessing from the county health department, the district notified students of the ceremonies via emails to seniors and their guardians as well as through limited advertising in the county.

The events have created an amalgam of feelings for students as well as administrators, like McFadden.

“Our seniors have been robbed of their rights of passage — graduating is a major milestone,” he said, later adding, “This is still an opportunity for us to celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments.”

Drive-in graduation ceremonies occurred Tuesday for Ghidotti Early College High School students, and began the same day for Bear River High School students, but will continue for the latter school through Thursday.


Bear River senior Jordan Moore, who graduates at 11:10 a.m. today, didn’t anticipate this type of celebration, and was hoping for something more conclusive, allowing her to say goodbye to her friends and teachers with a handshake or hug.

“It’s a real anti-climax,” she said of the ceremony and of the last few months. “I’ve just grown to be apathetic towards it.”

Zachery Fink, a Bear River student who is slated to graduate at 12:10 p.m. Thursday, said the current celebration is not ideal, but will at least bring the community closer. He was happy to be recognized while still living in Nevada County. He’d heard graduation ceremonies could have happened in September — two months after he plans to leave for life in the Army.

“It could have been worse,” he said, “It definitely it could have been worse.”

But some students have been more optimistic about the prospective ceremonies and process by which they’re occurring. Bear River’s Sonora Slater said she was excited to pickup her cap and gown Monday night at school, as she got to engage with her friends from their respective vehicles.

“It’s been really cool to see how much the community still cares,” she said.

Ghidotti Principal Noah Levinson said students were set to arrive Tuesday afternoon near the multipurpose room at Sierra College, where they would take a “selfie” next to photos of their classmates and walk behind Levinson, who would lead them to a podium to receive their diplomas as “Pomp and Circumstance” played in the background.

And while the circumstances were meant to be picturesque — students were to be celebrating individually atop Sierra College’s campus while the sun began to set on Grass Valley — Levinson admitted that it will be nothing like graduations of years past.

“The best part is being with everybody, and that’s the part we can’t do.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

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