Petition For In-Person graduation Stirs Controversy Among Students

Sarah Fidahussain, Student Life Editor

While COVID-19 triumphed over many senior events, senior Audrey Nappier and her mom thought of a way for graduation to still occur.

Nappier discussed with her mom one day of her disappointment about missing iconic senior events when her mom thought to make a petition “in the spree of the moment.”

“My mom hoped that I could at least have somewhat of a normal graduation and she was hoping the administrators at the school would consider the possibility,” Nappier said.

They hoped the petition would lead the administration to consider alternatives to an online graduation as many other districts have. The petition suggested having graduation on the football field where graduates can wear masks and socially distance alongside their families.

“We have worked hard for so many years to get to this moment, and although we have missed out on so many things our senior year, we are hoping to end our year together in celebration,” Nappier said. “My mom is a nurse in the ER and has battled COVID-19 tirelessly head on and understands the effects of this disease and its serious nature.”

Not everyone agrees with the Nappiers. Senior Brooke Rawson believes that graduation should only happen if it is guaranteed to be safe, which she thinks will not be possible anytime soon.

“Our entire school year has been different, and I don’t mind having a graduation that is not traditional, especially if it will ensure our community’s safety,” Rawson said.

Some students like seniors Kayla Kohlberg agree with Nappier and believe in-person graduation is possible.

“As long as the case numbers are down, and we could socially distance, having an in-person graduation would be a great opportunity for the seniors who have missed out on practically everything this year,” Kohlberg said.

Senior Skyler Richardson questions if an in-person graduation is worth the risk, but is open to alternative ideas like having graduation on the football field.

“Obviously I would absolutely love to have an in-person graduation, but we are also in a pandemic that is killing hundreds of thousands,” Richardson said.

Class President Patrick Cheatham says that doing his speech through video is a last resort and would prefer to do it traditionally.

“I personally would like it to be outside so everyone can hear me speak to them,” Cheatham said. “It is important for everyone to be able to listen to all of the speech givers including myself.”

He supports the petition and believes an outdoor graduation is better than an indoor one.

“I think the 2021 seniors, after everything they have gone through, after everything they have lost, this is the least the administration should do for us,” Cheatham said. “People can socially distance appropriately and still get the graduation they deserve.”