GI high school hosts outdoor graduation ceremony for class of 2020

Published: May. 16, 2020 at 7:34 PM CDT
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Two months ago, the lives of high school seniors shifted dramatically when the pandemic swooped in. They traded textbooks for laptops, no longer could see their friends and their ideas of how their senior year would end, completely changed.

Heartland Lutheran High School in Grand Island didn't want their last day to end through a screen. Instead they threw an outdoor graduation ceremony for the class of 2020.

Faculty led as students followed six feet apart to the school parking lot where the commencement would take place. Seniors sat in chairs spread out between each of them and Parents parked behind the ceremony to cheer and take pictures of this lifelong memory.

Staff and faculty encouraged the seniors as they start a new chapter while the seniors reflected on the last four years as a Heartland Lutheran student.

Carli Maier, co-valedictorian of Heartland Lutheran High School, thought COVID-19 robbed her senior experience but over time with the support of her teachers and peers, she felt better about the situation.

"It was really tough at first because I felt like everything was taken away from me but then my heartland family came together and supported us in so many ways that I didn't think was imaginable," said Maier.

Gwendolyn Gaunt, co-valedictorian of the school's 2020 senior class said, COVID-19 didn't break them but instead it brought them together.

"I feel like we've come closer together even though we're only communicating through televisions or screens," said Gaunt. "We're still connected because we're dealing with the same issues and we realize that but we're still there for each other."