‘This class deserves some closure:’ Hastings Senior High holds graduation

Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 6:31 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - From online classes to cancelled events, this year isn’t what most seniors expected for their final days of high school. But after Hastings Senior High School’s 2020 Commencement, many are just glad they got to end their time together.

Senior High’s graduation looked a bit different than normal this year.

The now former students walked into the gym in pairs to a recording of Pomp and Circumstance.

Graduates, attendees and staff had to wear masks at Sunday’s ceremony.

“I think it’s just really cool that we get the opportunity to be able to graduate in person,” said Ben Brockmann, a Hastings Senior High graduate. “I went to the last three graduations, and I’ve always looked forward to this moment. I think it’s really special that we’re still just going ahead with it and being safe.”

The school provided disposable masks for people who didn’t have their own.

Following Phase 3 Directed Health Measure restrictions, the gym could be filled to 50 percent capacity.

Families sat in groups of up to four people. Three seats were taped off between each group to allow for social distancing.

Graduates sat in chairs on the gym floor spaced four feet in all directions.

Attendees listened to speeches from board members, the high school principal and six valedictorians.

“I’m glad to see my friends again and that we get to share this memory together,” said Alice Franssen, a Hastings Senior High graduate. “Even though it’s a weird time, I’m still glad that we got to do it.”

Photos sat on the back of chairs for seniors who couldn’t make it the ceremony.

Senior High’s commencement is normally mid-May. This year, the school held it nearly two months later since the majority of students voted for a delayed in-person ceremony in place of an on-time virtual one.

“Their careers got abruptly stopped in middle of March on a 24 hours notice,” said Jeff Schneider, superintendent of Hastings Public Schools. “To see so many smiling faces in here today and parents so excited, I hope they get the closure that they’re looking for as they move on to their next steps.”

Schneider said they worked closely with the South Heartland District Health Department for about six weeks on the graduation safety plan.

Approximately 277 students graduated from Senior High this year.

Brockmann will be attending Creighton University in the fall where he will study biology.

Franssen will be heading to Chicago to study music and theater at Columbia College.

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