PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - Seniors at Pass Christian High may have lost out on part of their senior year but they will still get a traditional graduation, albeit one that’s a little late.
Seniors were a week shy of spring break until the coronavirus outbreak got out of hand.
“They just told us on a Saturday that we couldn’t go back to school. We were like oh okay, well we just can’t go back to school for a week," senior Kamdyn Skinner told WLOX. "We’ll be back.”
Little did Kamdyn and the rest of the senior class at Pass Christian High know that would be last time that they would roam the halls as high schoolers. COVID-19 not only shutdown the school, but made them lose out on senior traditions they can’t get back.
“We have this thing called ‘Pirate Showcase’ every year and we do intramurals between the classes. It’s a class competition for participation," senior Garrett Caldarelli said. "Who did the best dance and skit and stuff like that. Sensational Senior Day where we walk through the halls in our caps and gowns just one last day.”
“Prom, just any type of gatherings," senior Amaris Necaise said. "Pep rallies, our senior awards, just everything that seniors usually get that we feel like is kind of being taken from us.”
Pass Christian School District surveyed the seniors to ask what they wanted to do for graduation. The majority of students voted to go on with the regular commencement ceremony, just at a later date.
“That showed that they really cared about our feelings and it wasn’t just like one or two people in the top making the decision," senior Yash Patel told WLOX. "They really wanted to know what the student body wanted.”
“Our children have worked 13 years for this moment, and they deserve us to give them a chance to walk across the stage. In true Pirate fashion, we will not surrender to our present circumstances," said a statement released by the district on Tuesday.
While district officials did note that they will continue to monitor the outbreak and response both locally and statewide, they are hopeful a traditional graduation will happen.
"We are willing to wait one month for something that the Visionary Class of 2020, their families, and we see as a well-earned treasure.”
That decision is one many of the students are grateful to school leaders for.
“It might come down to us doing it virtually, but they cared enough to try to help us keep it traditional," Necaise added. "This is a big accomplishment, this is a milestone that everyone remembers is there graduation. It’s hard to just work for so long to not have that.”
The seniors look forward to walking across the stage on June 19th, hopefully getting the sendoff they deserve.
“They have heard us and they have let us be with our peers," Skinner said. "Showing that they care. That’s the most important thing.”
Long Beach School District also sent out a poll to seniors and an overwhelming 78 percent of them said they, too, wish to wait and have a postponed ceremony. Their ceremony is scheduled for June 26. However, district officials did say if restrictions are still in place by June 15, plans will change and a nontraditional ceremony will take place.
We’ve heard from a few other districts on how they plan to celebrate graduation. You can find information on the WLOX Education page.