Cool Schools: Mishawaka High School to host graduation ceremony amid coronavirus pandemic

Cool Schools: Mishawaka High School to host graduation ceremony amid coronavirus pandemic

MISHAWAKA, Ind.-- The gymnasium inside Mishawaka High School this school year won’t be filled with the usual speeches, stage walk, or cheers for the graduating class of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’ve been waiting for the governors announcement last Friday. We wanted to wait on the plan to see if there was any way possible to provide a physical graduation for our students," said School City of Mishawaka superintendent, Wayne Barker.

Just within the week, Indiana’s stay at home order was lifted and step two of the state’s ‘Back on Track' plan was released allowing businesses to open with social distancing guidelines still in full effect.

"We feel like they’ve done so much. We want to do our best to recognize the work they put in and it seemed the best way to do that is bring them back together as long as we can do so safely," said Barker.

The date is set for July 24th.

There are a lot of things to still keep in mind moving forward.

Will the ceremony be inside or outside? How will families and students be seated to follow social distancing guidelines? Will speeches be recorded? The district now forced to even take things like weather into consideration for the first time.

No matter the districts choice, Mishawaka High School, senior Alicia Katzelis is just happy this is one senior experience she won’t have to miss out on.

“It was just really sad because a lot of us have been waiting for this moment for years. I was really excited that they were working on a graduation ceremony for us when I heard about it. Especially not a virtual one. Not taking the easier road of just completely canceling everything but really making an effort and showing us they care," said Katzelis.

The only thing on Katzelis’ mind? To walk the stage, graduate, and enter the pharmaceutical track at Purdue University.

"For me it really helps me understand that the medical field is going to be changed from now on. It just inspired me to work hard in my studies," said Katzelis. 

Right now, as the pandemic continues, the direction the virus takes will no doubt change the course of what and how Katzelis will learn in the medical field after graduation, and possibly even change what Mishawaka High’s graduation ceremony looks like once again.

Only time will tell, but to superintendent Barker, one things for sure.

"They have an obligation in all of this too. We’re trying to do the best for them but they will have to adhere to those guidelines so we can all do this as safely as possible," said Barker.

Plans will be finalized as the day approaches and new procedures are released by the Indiana Department of Health.

There are some positive changes happening for the high school this year.

School City of Mishawaka tells ABC57, students will be allowed to decorate their caps for the first time in school history.

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