Teachers cheered and waved signs. Music echoed across the high school parking lot. Students posed for selfies from inside their cars.
The drive-thru cap-and-gown pickup event last week might be the closest Stanwood High seniors will come to a traditional graduation. About 220 of the soon-to-be Spartan graduates picked up gear for the ceremony as well as goodie bags, awards and more.
“The seniors have lost so many things for the end of their senior year, we decided to provide some extra things for them,” principal Christine Del Pozo said.
Students received a yard sign, sunglasses, a wristband, a senior cup, a graduation necklace, a pinwheel, bubbles and more. Senior athletes picked up awards and certificates. Students also received honor cords and FFA cords. The valedictorians and salutatorian picked up their plaques and medallions, as well. Earning the title of valedictorian this year are Khyla Boyer, Lauren Brager, Glory Brooks, Celia Hand, Lindsey Hendrickson, Nicholas Johnson, Preston Pierce and Bethany Vansant. The salutatorian honor goes to Lily Cunningham.
Valedictorians have earned 4.0 grade point averages throughout their high school careers, meaning each student received an A in every class. A salutatorian is a student who receives just one A- during the four years of high school.
In addition, Jeffrey Rahman was one of 2,500 seniors across the nation to receive National Merit honors and a $2,500 scholarship on May 13. National Merit Scholarship winners are students judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies, according to the nonprofit organization. Rahman was selection from more than 15,000 finalists.
Del Pozo said the school still wants to do what it can to honor the senior class’s bevy of achievements while also continuing to adjust to online learning.
“It has been challenging the last month to balance planning for year-end events and still keep our distance learning program going,” Del Pozo said. “The unknown has been hard. We really wanted to hold live, in-person year-end events this year. We were holding out hope we could make that happen, especially for graduation. But with the recent state announcement of our new phase-in process, we realized that we would not be able to hold graduation with all students, families and community members at the stadium.”
Instead, the high school will hold a virtual graduation on June 12. However, exactly what the virtual graduation will look like is still being worked out. Plans could also hinge on if more stay-home restrictions are lifted by June 1, potentially allowing for more pomp and circumstance.
Meanwhile, it's possible that the drive-thru event on May 12 was one of the final chances teachers and staff could see students and celebrate their achievements, Del Pozo said.
“We are so sorry the closure happened for all of our students, but especially our seniors,” she said. “We miss them and look forward to celebrating with them at the upcoming year end events.”
On May 18, the school held its annual Celebration of Excellence award night online. On May 26, the annual Scholarship Night with the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation will be virtual. On May 28, seniors can pick up scholarship award information in front of the school. On June 4, the annual Senior Athletic banquet will be held online. Then on June 12, graduation will take place virtually, as well.